By Melody Young
As Coach Fabian Sandoval’s whistle pierced the cold and wet air, the boys varsity soccer players stopped their practice scrimmage to hear what their coach had to say.
“Why did you send the ball that way? There is as much defense as offense there, so who’s going to win that?” Sandoval asked the defender.
“They will,” senior and defender Miguel Sandoval replied.
“Right. But on the other side, you have three offensive players open and only two defensive players. You have a better chance of advancing on that side. Read the game,” Sandoval explained.
Even though the scrimmage was only for practice, Sandoval critiqued the plays as if it were a real game. His criticism may have seemed harsh, but it only serves to push the boys to be more competitive. Much of Sandoval’s coaching focuses on analyzing the opponents’ strategies and learning how to break down their defense. He stresses competitiveness as well as good teamwork within the team.
Despite the team winning last year’s championship game and being ranked first in California and thirteenth in the nation, Sandoval puts no emphasis on winning.
“Fight and compete is the basis, and then wins come from being competitive. So far the boys have been taking care of business, and that’s all we can ask for,” Sandoval said.
Regardless of this mindset, Sandoval feels that this year’s players crave the championship win. Since most team members also play in club teams outside of school, they have plenty competitive experiences.
“Some of the boys have been on the losing side of championships before, so they understand what it takes to win championships,” Sandoval said.
The majority of this year’s team consists of juniors and seniors who are either returning varsity team members or have been in the school’s soccer program in previous years. The 22 players of the varsity team were chosen for their outstanding technical skills, and their talent clearly shows in the team’s current league score of 7-0-2. As of right now, the team has won 18 of the 21 games played in the season thus far, both ties and seven wins counting toward their standings to make playoffs.
The team’s outstanding performance puts them in a good position to possibly win the championship title. Sports website, maxpreps.com, predicted the team to win this year’s championship. Their success can be attributed to the fighting mentality that Sandoval instilled within the players.
“In order to be a championship team, we need to fight in every game like every game is a championship. Coach always tells us not to look at the rankings because they can make us soft,” senior and left-midfielder Pedro Ramirez said.
The team has its last season game today at Cleveland High School at 5:00 p.m. before starting playoffs. Come and support the team as they finish off their season and compete for the championship title.