Boys soccer kicks off with new roster


Senior goalkeeper Raphael Chevallier gathers the ball during tryouts. With a new squad, the boys soccer team is excited for the upcoming season. Photo by Michael Sieffert.

After finishing with a 3-7-2 record and being relegated to the El Camino League last year, the varsity boys soccer team faces new competition in the upcoming season. Twelve seniors graduated last year, including team captain Matt Schonher, as well as two of three goalies and key midfield players. With a fresh lineup, the team hopes to climb back up to the De Anza League.

The lineup will have many returning senior players, including seniors Matt Carroll and Nicky McConnell.

“I hope we have a lot of seniors on the team, since they’re bigger, and going on other teams they usually match better,” Nicky said. “There are also a couple of sophomores from last year that I’m hoping will be on the team who could have played, but they stayed on JV to get more playing time.”

The team commends coach Vava Marques, who has coached the Eagles since 1999, for his continual optimism and energy, even during the team’s rough patches.

“I think [Marques] is a great coach,” Nicky said. “He brings a lot of energy to the team. Last year we didn’t do too great, but he’s always encouraging us to do better. I think that’s awesome, because you always need to have someone who’s pushing you.”

The team attributes many of last year’s losses to a lack of team chemistry, with many strong players that did not play cohesively on the field. These problems stemmed from a divide between upperclassmen and lowerclassmen, one that Matt wants to bridge this year.

“The seniors [had] a little joke, [to have] underclassmen go get the goals out and set everything up,” Matt said. “They would kind of pick on us, in a sense. Our goal this year is to not make the underclassmen do everything and … just to include everyone.”

On the field, this divide became the habit of certain players prioritizing individual play over team goals; the team suffered from some players sacrificing key opportunities to pass for attempts to score by themselves.

“There was a lot of selfish play, where people were trying to take on multiple defenders by themselves just to score on their own,” junior Albin Mollerstedt said. “[This year] we’ll be focusing on moving the ball around to all the players on the team.”

Last year the team often lacked overall commitment. In turn, practices suffered from low morale without serious mindsets for improvement.
“The seniors [last year] weren’t as committed to playing soccer,” Nicky said. “They’d mess around a lot, and it didn’t seem like a huge deal to them. This year, a lot of the seniors on the team are more committed to soccer, and they’ll take it more seriously.”

For team cohesion, the preseason is an important time for practice, allowing new and returning members to become comfortable with the rest of their team before the season starts.

“[Preseason games are] important because they build on team chemistry before you start, so you know how the team works,” Nicky said. “It’s nice to work together before, to see how we work and see how we play, and see how people fit into their positions. That’s really important before the season.”

With 12 open spots on the roster to be filled, the Eagles are confident in their abilities to win their way back to the De Anza league. To reach the upper league, Los Altos needs to be one of the top two El Camino league teams out of eight. Preseason games and conditioning last until the end of December, and league games stretch from the beginning of January to the end of February.

“We have a pretty good chance,” Matt said. “We have a pretty good team this year, [and] I’d say our worst case hopes would be to win half our games, but I think we have a pretty good shot at getting promoted back to the top league.”