Soccer kick-starts historic year

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photo by Kacy Lach

Senior Jared Quilumba dribbles through the Lyman defense.

Nathaniel Kauffman, Twitter Editor

Boys soccer has only beaten Oviedo once, coming back in 2011 in a close 3-2 win. But this year on Dec. 7 the team scored six unanswered goals to dismantle the Lions 6-0 for the biggest win of the season and a key moment going forward.

The team is off to a 8-1-3 start with their only loss coming in week three against Lyman. They also currently sit at number one in the district (7-1-3), scoring almost three goals a game.

“It has been pretty exciting to start so hot,” sophomore Ian Katz said. “We are the team right now to beat and everyone wants a shot at us.”

The best season in school history finished was in the 2013-2014 season and many of the older players on the current team were on that team as well.

“This year looks even more promising from how we’ve been playing lately,” captain Dylan Chopra, a sophomore on the 2013-2014 team, said. “The talent and depth we have on this team definitely makes it better than past years, but the chemistry we’ve built up playing together these past couple years also helps.”

One of the biggest games of the season was against the number two team in the district, Lake Mary when junior Zach Weishampel’s late goal lifted the team to a 1-1 tie. They also benefited from 12 saves by goalie Chris Hagglund.

The team has shut out three opponents this year beating Colonial 4-0 and Lake Brantley 3-0, but the most satisfying win was against Oviedo.

“It feels good any time you can beat your rival but to shut them out and score six goals felt amazing,” captain Shay Leatherman said.

The team did so behind a goal from each of their two starting sophomores, Katz a defender and Michael Lynch from midfield. Having been a big part of the team’s success, Lynch has scored seven goals on the season and on the opposite side of the field, Katz has been a key part of a defense which allows less than a single goal per game.

“The coach has asked the younger players to be at our best and play hard,” Katz said. “We have gotten good experience playing and we have gotten better and more physical.”

Since the team must rely on inexperienced players, they know that there must be leaders to help them along the way. That’s where the team’s four senior captains come into play: Leatherman, Chopra, Alex Boyd and Ryan Dooley. These four are tasked with getting the team ready for games while also holding it together when things on the field do not go as planned.

“As a leader, I have to work hard every day to improve as an individual, a team and to motivate underclassmen to do the same,” Boyd said.

With all the emphasis on leaders, when one goes down it can be hard to compensate. Leatherman has missed parts of the season due to a torn labrum which limits his mobility and, if it flares up, it can force him to sit out. Leatherman recently had to make a big decision not to get surgery until the season was over, choosing instead to play through the pain and finish.

“As a leader on the team I need to be there for them and I don’t want to leave high school with any regrets,” Leatherman said.

With the four leaders dedicated and a solid core of young players and upperclassmen, the only question for this team is how far they can go. Their consensus goal at the beginning of the year was to win it all, starting with districts and ideally ending with a state title. While the state title is a long shot, a first district title in school history is not out of the question.

“Realistically I think we have a very good chance to win the district and possibly even the region depending on how well we come together by then,” Chopra said. “It’s just little mistakes we need to work out in order to be great.”

The team’s next game is home against district opponent Winter Springs on Friday, Dec. 18.

boys soccer graphic

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