Working With a Younger Team

Varsity soccer has been challenged this year dealing with the loss of much of the seniors of last year’s squad

by Benton Dietrich, Photo Editor

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Varsity soccer has had to adapt it’s style of play in it’s games so far, but that’s to be expected with how drastically this team has been changed from last year’s far more senior heavy team.

We really have high aspirations for what we can do, if we can defend well, take corner plays well, attack well and the goaltending is there, I think we are in the game with anyone we play. We could win first in districts …  we could also lose our first game, it’s one of those we just have to take one game at a time.”

— Varsity Head Coach Todd Rakonick

“It’s different,” varsity coach Todd Rakonick said, “we lost seven seniors last year, real experienced players too, including (Chase) Wetzler as the goalie. So through the summer workouts, and through seeing players at their select clubs and in pre-season training I had to watch and sort of supplement our lineup with young players, so we have basically four freshmen that start.”

With all the new talent Rakonick believes it’s been a little shaky at times, but when everything works out varsity has shown real class against very top tier opponents. Even in their losses the scoreline has kept very close.

“I think we’re still pretty good, we’ve scored more goals than we have given up. Of course there are some defensive plays we’ve given up or some offensive chances we missed, … it’s back and forth with that,” Rakonick said.

Junior Luc Bourgeade is a newly called up member of the varsity squad this year. The play at varsity level is very high caliber and quick, requiring a lot of quick thinking and snap decision making that can make it hard to keep up and stay on top of the game.

“It’s very intense, you definitely have to work for your spot. You have to really show the coaches your skill and improvements,” Bourgeade said, ‘it’s much quicker, way faster and unforgiving. You need to be able to keep up with varsity members and it’s a lot more efficient once you can do more things and get a feel for how fast it is.”

In years like this where every game can have a different outcome, morale can be very important. In fairly even games the score can often be decided by less obvious factors, such as how well the team gel with each other, and how the coaches tactics affect each player individually. Of course the most talked about of these factors is how winning or losing of previous games, or the ‘form’ of the team, changes a players mindset.

“It’s less motivating sometimes. it just depends on the game, because in some of the games that we won, we still didn’t feel good about it. We still felt like we played bad and there was room to improve. It’s really good when we win a game well against a good team and we really work hard at a game that we win,” Bourgeade said.

Overall, Rakonick feels confident with the current varsity team. He knows that there are some inconsistencies and certain areas that need more work for a well rounded team, but they can always be worked on.

“One thing we’ve struggled with this year is our corner plays. We have run some really well designed plays and practiced them all kinds of times, but we are just waiting for someone like Caleb Schneider or Jack Walker that we had last year. We just need someone tall and aggressive to be solidified in those plays,” Rakonick said.

With a record of 9 wins and 7 losses as of date of publish, things are still going well for varsity in the normal season. With around 6 games left before districts, Rakonic is hopeful for the rest of the normal season, if everything can go right for varsity.

“Looking at the schedule we have a really legit chance of winning every game,” Rakonick said, “we lost to Orchard Farm the first game 2-1 in overtime, so right now … they have gone undefeated in conference, and we will get a rematch with them and I’m hoping …  we can be split champions again like last year.”

Despite all the challenges this team faces, and the tough bracket in districts that the varsity will have to face up against, everything will rely on how the morale of the team, how they improve over the last few weeks of the season, and how they can adjust to strong opponents. 

“District play starts at the end of October and the beginning of November, where there’s seven strong teams. There’s a couple private schools who will probably be placed 1 and 2, and overall it’s a really tough bracket,” Rakonick said, “We really have high aspirations for what we can do, if we can defend well, take corner plays well, attack well and the goaltending is there, I think we are in the game with anyone we play. We could win first in districts …  we could also lose our first game, it’s one of those we just have to take one game at a time.”

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