Boys’ soccer hosts Dana Hills in CIF opener

Luke Holthouse

A late-season surge may not have come early enough for the team to claim a league championship, but the varsity boys’ soccer team won enough games down the stretch to finish in second-place in the league and earn home field advantage for the first round of CIF playoffs on Friday.
As the team finally starts to gel with first-year Head Coach Lucas Bongarra, the team is confident that it is building just enough momentum at the right time to make a run in playoffs.
“We started off slow and there were definitely some ups and downs,” Beau McGinley ‘13 said. “[But] I think that we definitely peaked at the right time.”
With a league record of 2-3-1 after their six games of the league season, the Wolverines finished 4-1-1 in their final six league games to improve to 6-4-2 on the season, good enough for second place in the league behind a 12-0-0 Loyola.
The team then nearly upset undefeated league rival Loyola in the final regular season game, but the Cubs used a late comeback to pull away with a 3-2 win.
“I thought we played a very solid game,” Bongarra said after the Loyola loss. “I thought we deserved something more. It didn’t feel like a loss. Looking forward to the playoffs, this definitely gets us ready. We were hungry already, but after this game, we are going to be even hungrier. ”
Despite the loss to Loyola on the last game of the season, the Wolverines showed visible improvement in their second matchups with league opponents from their first matchup. The Wolverines lost to Crespi and St. Francis then tied to Alemany in their first meetings this season, but the Wolverines were able to win the rematches with against all three of those teams later in the year.
The improvement has both brought up the confidence of the team as it heads into playoffs but also helped the Wolverines avoid a tougher opponent in the first round because of a better seed.
“I think that we’ve improved notably over the season and I think we’re going to make a good playoff run,” Nick Knight ’14 said. “I think we’ll be competitive this year.”
Ty Gilhuly ’13 attributed the improvement of the team to the fact that it took some time for the team to adjust to Bongarra’s coaching style, but everyone had bought into his style by midseason.
“I think we had a tough time with Bongarra at the beginning because the atmosphere for this whole school soccer thing has been very relaxed,  and there wasn’t much discipline,” Gilhuly said. “We just had trouble adjusting and had to buy into the program and start trusting each other.”
The Wolverines will host Dana Hills on Friday at 3:00 for the first round game.
Gilhuly said that the team is favored against Dana Hills as the home team and is expecting that the team advances at least to the second round, but possibly further depending on its next opponent.
Jonathan Loewenberg ’13 said that the experience of an early exit from last year’s team that lost to Thousand Oaks in the first round should motivate the team this year.
“I think we have a lot of kids with experience here in the playoffs and a lot of them are hungry to go a lot further than they did last year,” “I think that’s going to make a huge difference and regardless of who we play.”