Season preview: Boys’ soccer kicks off new season

Amy Leung, Author

Junior forward Dami Bolarinwa jukes out a Milpitas defender in
Junior forward Dami Bolarinwa jukes out a Milpitas defender in a game last year. Paly and Milpitas tied 1-1 in their game on Dec. 10, 2013 on the Paly field. Photo by Scott Andrews.

The Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team is looking forward to a new season with experienced players after moving up a league.

Last year, the team finished with an overall record of 7-8-5 and a league record of 2-5-3 and graduated seniors Tony Maharaj, Neal Biswas and Cina Vazir. This year, the team will be stronger due to more seasoned players, according to senior center back Preston Kuppe.

“I think that we will be better than last year because we have some good returning players,” Kuppe said. “The biggest difference is that we have more experience this year, so hopefully that will work to our advantage.”

Last year, the team almost made the Central Coast Section playoffs, according to junior defensive midfielder Siddharth Srinivasan.

“We had to beat or tie league champion Los Gatos on the last day of last season, and we conceded in the last minute to lose it,” Srinivasan said. “This season, we hope to secure automatic qualification for CCS and fight for the league title.”

However, assistant coach Amir Malekpour says that it may be difficult because the team moved up to the De Anza League.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us this year since we moved up from the El Camino League,” Malekpour said. “We are facing better teams, but I think we should do OK.”

Additionally, the team lost other key players besides seniors, according to Malekpour.

“Some of our starters aren’t playing school [soccer] this year because of club,” Malekpour said. “That’s quite a change for us — looking for players to fill the spots.”

Srinivasan says that the team has a strong offense with certain key players.

“We have very fast and strong forwards, such as [junior] Dami Bolarinwa, [sophomore] Michel Ange-Siaba and [senior] Edward Chen, so we will look to play a more pressing defense,” Srinivasan said.

Malekpour agrees, emphasizing the overall strength of the team.

“We have a lot of players capable of stepping up,” Malekpour said. “Mostly [seniors] Preston Kuppe and Wesley [Woo] will be the main two in defense and midfield.”

The boys’ next game is their first pre-season game against Milpitas High School at 3:30 p.m., Dec. 1, at home.

“Milpitas has always been a very good opponent to play against because they’re skillful yet also aggressive, but we know how they play overall, so hopefully we’ll be able to use that against them to pull out a win,” Kuppe said.