Preview: Boys' soccer to kick off season

Addie McNamara, Author

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Head coach Donald Briggs watches as last year’s boys’ varsity soccer team runs sprints after losing a game to Mountain View High School. This year’s team tied Mountain View in a scrimmage last week. Photo by Hilda Huang/Viking.

After suffering a season without a single win last year, the Palo Alto High School boys’ varsity soccer team entertains high hopes for its first official game tonight, as well as the rest of the season.

According to head coach Donald Briggs, the team faces a new set of opponents as it has moved from the De Anza league to the El Camino portion of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League. Briggs emphasized that the El Camino league still poses a challenge to the Paly team, although some of the teams will not be as much of a threat.

“The De Anza [league] is a really tough division,” Briggs said. “Our division will be good too. There are maybe a couple teams down at the bottom that aren’t as strong, but the top half of the division is strong.”

Senior co-captain Alex Chin agreed with Briggs that being in the El Camino league has motivated the team to play well in the upcoming season.

“We want to move up from the El Camino league back to the league we were relegated from,” Chin said.

Along with moving back to the De Anza league, the team has other aspirations for the season.

“Our goal is to win at least a majority of our games,” said senior co-captain Kirby Gee. “We also want to beat our crosstown rivals Gunn when we scrimmage them.”

With only one senior on the team graduating last year, Briggs believes the team will give an all-around strong showing, but will need to focus more on scoring goals rather than playing defensively.

“We have about 14 or 15 returning players,” Briggs said. “One of our strengths last year was defense, but we really had a problem scoring. … So that’s going to be our big test because all of the guys returning are good defenders and it just depends if we can score.”

Even with so many returning players, part of Briggs’ optimism for the team comes from the large turnout at tryouts this year.

“We had an unbelievable number of kids tryout this year,” Briggs said. “We had about 80 [students show up], and last year we had about 50. We have a really young team still.”

The team tied a scrimmage against Mountain View High School on Monday, Nov. 19, which left Briggs with mixed feelings.

“We gave a goal up with about five minutes left,” Briggs said. “We probably outplayed them in the first … and third period[s]. It was pretty even in the second … and fourth period[s].”

The first official game of the season takes place at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Carlmont High School.

“We played them [Carlmont] last year and we tied them,” Briggs said. “We should be able to compete with them well. We’re better than last year. The big question is going to be scoring goals. If we can score goals, we’re gonna win.”

Overall, the team hopes to claim more victories than in previous seasons.

“We definitely don’t want to repeat last year,” Gee said, “so we’re all focused on the task at hand.”