Boys varsity soccer looks to the future after tough season

Yotam Hahn and John Mauro

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After the ups and downs of a long season, the Boys Varsity Soccer team hopes to learn from their mistakes and build upon their accomplishments, co-Captain Chris Ha (12) said.
The team has a league record of 1-13 and sit at the bottom of the Ivy League standings.
The Lions struggled with internal challenges, such as challenges out of their control and the high level of play of other teams and injured teammates, Ha (12) said.
The team struggles to start games off strong as a result of a lack of mental preparation, Ha said.

One of the team’s greatest strengths is their ability to bounce back after a rough start, Ha said. However, this often resulted in close losses because there was not enough time remaining to make a full comeback.

After a close 2-1 homecoming defeat versus Fieldston, the best team in the league, it became clear to the team that they are capable of competing with the best teams in the league when their spirits are high, midfielder Alex Gerstenhaber (11) said.
The team has strong depth this season, Gerstenhaber said. “We had a lot of strong players that could sub in for a tired starter and keep the game competitive.”
The team’s first league game was a 6-1 loss against Trinity.

“Losing our first league game to Trinity was our lowest moment,” goalkeeper Devin Hirsch (11) said. “We had tied against Edgemont and beat Loyola, and losing to a team on our own turf was rough.” The loss, however, was motivation to get back up and play harder for the rest of the season, Hirsch said.

The team implemented strategies and formations in their gameplay to bolster their playing potential. The team initially tried several formations and kept changing them until they found a successful one, co-Captain Daniel Lee (12) said. “Through trial and error, we found a position where we could both score and defend well.”
“At the beginning of the season, the team just would just kick the ball up to Jeffrey and hope for the best,” Hirsch said. “But now, we’re more of a team, going up and down the field together and communicating more.”

Manager Taussia Boadi (12) agrees that communication has been another quality of the team that has improved over the season, she said. “Initially, the team wouldn’t talk on the field, but now when the boys are dribbling up the field, they make sure to talk and let each other know who’s open.”

At the start of the season, the team had trouble getting possession of the ball, but as a team they really stepped up and did their best, especially in the close games against Fieldston and Riverdale, Boadi said.

Defensively, Armaan Kakodkar (11) holds a solid position at center back and the team’s starting goalie Jake Federman (11) has improved immensely with a save percentage above 50%, Lee said.

Kri Galvin-Dubois (10) has been integral to the team all season long, Gerstenhaber said. “He is a very good ball-winner in the midfield and supports the defense, but is also excellent at bringing the ball up the field and passing to the more attacking players such as Jeffrey Chen or myself.”
After many seniors graduated last year, the team took on a number of underclassmen, Lee said. “The team had many new players who I had never played with before, but that never stopped us from getting close.”

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the team,” Noah Phillips (12) said. “The coaches were the first people I had met at the school when I came in ninth grade. But I’m excited to move on and stay in touch and see what happens next.”

“I’m proud of the way they played together and how they improved their team play,” Boys’ Varsity Soccer Coach Neil Berniker said. “The camaraderie between them matured throughout the season. They have improved both soccer wise and as individuals.”
Next year, the team will have a plethora of sophomores and juniors ready to fill the leadership void left by the seniors, Hirsch said. “We’ll be sad to see our six seniors go, but many juniors, including myself, are definitely ready to take up leadership on the team.”

The team will have an experienced, talented squad with many members already having a year of Varsity experience, Berniker said.

Berniker was proud of the energy that the team brought to every game, he said. “The win-loss record isn’t the only degree of success we go by.”
“Most of all, the team was resilient and regardless of our record that is something to be proud of,” Ha said.

“I don’t think it’s about wins and losses,” Phillips said. “I hope my last game ends with me being with my family and friends who I’ve known for my whole HM career.”