With this year’s theme of growth, the boys soccer team has prepared during the offseason and preseason. Before the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, the team was undefeated with two wins, so assistant coach Leo Hernandez has high hopes that the team will carry on what started last season.
“The team has had the advantage of watching the senior boys last year,” Hernandez said. “I really feel like they are taking on the responsibility of carrying on what the other guys started and are striving for growth.”
With a victory at the Har-Ber vs. Russellville Benefit match, the team has persevered through various obstacles that the pandemic has thrown at them.
“The team really got prepared together in the offseason and preseason enough to really just bond to execute our defensive plays and to attack,” Hernandez said. “We created opportunities and were able to get in a couple of times and rely on one goal.”
Throughout the practices, certain objectives are set for the team to accomplish. Responsibility is a key factor that Hernandez wants the younger team members to learn on and off the field.
“We have objectives for every practice and we always go back at the end and reflect on those objectives that we accomplished,” Hernandez said. “If not, we come back the following day and try to improve on that.”
With only five seniors, there are many young newcomers on the team.
“We have different pieces of the game, so creating a bond between the guys is important because it is a young team,” Hernandez said.
According to Hernandez, the biggest challenge for the team this year are the underclassmen. He has high expectations for the seniors to step up their leadership roles and for the whole team to be in the right mindset.
“I think that they know that they have to carry on what the older boys had started, and they started on the right foot in the first game,” Hernandez said.
According to senior Tate Kessler, the experiences that he has with teammates and the friendships are his favorite part about the sport.
“The chemistry on the field isn’t quite there yet,” Kessler said, “But I think we will get there as we go on through the season.”
This year, Kessler and the rest of the team has focused on improving their technical growth with help from coaches. Technique is Kessler’s top priority with this year’s season.
“I have really been focusing more on the tactical side of it this year,” Kessler said.
According to Kessler, the team’s first game put a lot of effort out there on the field. However, there are still some hiccups that have come along dealing with the team as a whole.
“Obviously the pandemic has been difficult due to all of the guidelines that the team has to follow, but it hasn’t really stopped us from working hard,” Kessler said.