After losing star player, team looks forward to gaining preseason advantage December 9, 2017 — by Jackson Green and Jeffrey Xu During practice, coaches are drilling players to maintain possession of the ball, in order to make players more comfortable with the ball rather than getting rid of it quickly by passing or shooting. As the boys’ varsity soccer team captain senior Solomon Bailey jogged onto the field for the first practice of the year last month, he was reminded that many of the familiar faces from last year were gone, with most having graduated last spring. In the absence of the players he used to look up to, Bailey knew he would have to step up and shoulder more responsibility. Among the graduates was forward Kevin Yu, who now plays on the team at Carnegie Mellon as a freshman. According to Bailey, he was the team’s “main target every time we got the ball. We passed it to him, and he scored.” This year, without Yu, each of the boys will have to step up, Bailey said. The team looks forward to playing upper league teams in preseason such as Independence on Dec. 13 and Valley Christian on Dec. 19. If they do well, these games will give them the credits they need to qualify for CCS as well as hone their soccer skills. Instead of playing five preseason games as they did last year, the boys are playing 11. A major reason they fell short of CCS last year was that they played so few preseason games. “Playing teams that are at a much higher level than us will get us extra credit,” Bailey said. “If anything goes wrong throughout the season, then we’ll have the preseason credits to boost our chances of making CCS.” Sophomore Brian Wu was one of the only two sophomores to make the varsity team and will play defender. “I feel extremely excited to play on varsity this year,” Wu said. “However, I am a little nervous because I’m one of two sophomores, and I feel like I need to prove that I belong in varsity through playing well in games.” The team is anticipating a winning season this year because it’s returning 16 seniors, assistant coach Alex Booth noted. “Having so many seniors in the squad is quite rare and helps because there are so many returning players who understand the formations we want to play,” Booth said. “Also, they give us a physical advantage over some schools.” These older and more experienced players are also able to help integrate some of the newer, younger players, Booth said. With this contrast in the players’ ages, he and head coach Chris Scott plan to implement strategic changes in order for the team to be successful. During practice, coaches are drilling players to maintain possession of the ball, in order to make players more comfortable with the ball rather than getting rid of it quickly by passing or shooting. Even without the star factor of Yu, Booth believes that the team is more well rounded this year and may even be stronger. “Last year we came close to CCS and had some good results, but we lacked a little depth in the team, sometimes relying on one area of our team too much,” Booth said. “This year, we have a group with lots of potential. With the correct attitude and setup, we can finish with a good record.” The soccer team is 0-2-1, losing 0-3 to Harker on Dec. 7, losing 0-1 to Mountain View on Nov, 29, and tying Santa Teresa 2-2 on Dec. 1. The will start league play in the Lower El Camino Division in January.