Boys soccer rebuilds with a young team and a promotion
by Julia Asin
Published December 5, 2013
The Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer players will have to deal with the challenges of having a young team as they start the 2013-14 season, fresh off of their promotion back up to the De Anza League.
Similarly to the Paly girls’ soccer team, the boys’ team was demoted to the El Camino League after a dismal 2011-12 season in which they failed to win a single season game. During the 2012-13 season, the Vikings improved their record to 8-3-1, and this season were promoted back up to the DAL.
Junior center midfielder Wesley Woo noted the team’s achievements last year.
“We had a pretty strong season,” Woo said. “We got promoted and I think we got to the quarter finals of CCS [Central Coast Section]. That was a pretty big achievement.”
This year, the team is mostly comprised of juniors and sophomores, with six juniors and eight sophomores, according to a conditional varsity roster. There are three returning seniors and three freshmen. The makeup of the team may shift as the coach decides if some players need to be moved down to junior varsity.
Head Coach Donald Briggs believes the main challenge the team will face this year is its youth.
“We’re very young, maybe the youngest team we’ve had,” Briggs said. “Sometimes when you’re younger it takes a while to get used to the pace of the varsity game and just the increased pressure.”
The team’s influx of youth this year comes from the graduation of seven seniors last year, including the team’s leading goal scorer, Chris Meredith.
“That senior group had a lot of personalities, they kind of carried the team last year,” Briggs said. “You can’t tell what kind of personality the [current] team has yet. Hopefully we can have some success, which means being competitive in every game.”
The Vikings are currently in the middle of a preseason tournament taking place in Pleasanton. On Monday, they lost their first game to Freedom High School by a score of 1-0, then lost Tuesday to Bishop O’Dowd High School, 3-1. Prior to the tournament, the team also lost to Mountain View High School 4-1, bringing their current record to 0-3. Today’s game against Antioch High School is their first game that will count for CCS.
Briggs says the younger players on the team need time to adjust to the age difference and higher-level play before they start finding success.
“I think we have a lot of talented young players, they’ve just got to get used to playing up,” Briggs said. “Normally they play most of their games in clubs and they usually don’t play out of their age groups,” Briggs said. “Some of our guys are 14-year-olds and they’re going against 17- and 18-year-olds.”
Woo said current team members are ready to step up and fill empty leadership roles, as the team faces the challenge of the more competitive De Anza League.
“It’s going to be a lot harder than last year, and we’ve lost a lot of key players from last year,” Woo said. “But I think we’re ready to step up to the challenge and survive. We have a lot of sophomores carrying over from last year and I think they can definitely step it up from last year, and [senior] Cina Vazir is one of the center mid[fielder]s from last year and I think he’s probably one of the best players in the league.”
Briggs’ goals for the season include helping the young team keep up with the high level of play and staying in the DAL.
“We want to stay up, we want to be competitive in every game we play,” Briggs said. “I mean going out and always having an opportunity to win, and trying to improve every game.”
The Vikings will continue their tournament play at 4:30 p.m. today at Foothill High School, where they will play against Antioch High School.
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