Boys’ soccer: fighting to maintain league lead

February 9, 2010 — by Roy Bisht and Aanchal Mohan

Just a month ago, when the season first started, few would have ever guessed that the boys’ soccer team, led by a brand new coach and made up mostly of sophomores, would even be able scrape together a few wins, let alone compete for a league title and a spot in CCS.

However, with an overall record of 10-5 and a league record of 5-2, the Falcons are leading the El Camino Division and are on target to earn a spot in the playoffs.

“We’ve played some really close games, some we’ve won, and some we’ve lost,” said sophomore defender Stanton Ho. “For a team with as little varsity experience as we have, we’ve done really well.”

Through the first week of February, the Falcons were riding a four-game winning streak, beating Cupertino 4-0 on Feb. 4, Wilcox 2-0 on Feb. 2, Santa Clara 2-1 on Feb. 1 and Homestead 5-1 on Jan. 26. The wins have helped the team rebound from losses early in the season against Fremont on Jan. 21 and Cupertino on Jan. 12.

“There have been some tough losses earlier this year where we played poorly, but after those games we’ve been able to get back onto our feet and perform well the next game, and that’s been a key to our success this year,” said sophomore midfielder Rajiv Ramakabir.

The ability to bounce back after a loss has proved to be a savior for the Falcons, who have not lost consecutive games yet this season. Ramakabir credits this to the leadership and focus of coach Adam Clarke, who has stepped up in his first season as head coach at Saratoga.

“[Clark] really understands everything about the game, he really knows how to coach a team and how to treat us after a poor game, and get us prepared for the next,” said Ramakabir.

“Overall, he’s really a coach of tremendous caliber.”

Players such as sophomore defenders Manish Raghavan and Jonathon Junqua, and senior forward Sean Ashe have also acted as team captains to assist Clarke.

“[Raghavan], [Junqua] and [Ashe] have really been key leaders for us this year,” said senior goalie Kevin Benzing. “Their leadership has really helped us step up our game.”

Another key to success is the team’s approach and strategy for each game, which, according to Ramakabir, is “to just score”.

“The defenders and midfielders work together in trying to get the ball up the field to the forwards so they can score,” said Junqua. “When we keep it that simple, we have a lot of success.”

The Falcons will round up their season with games against Lynbrook (7-3-1) on Feb 9, Santa Clara (6-3-2) on Feb 11, Fremont (2-4-1) on Feb 16 and Homestead (5-6-2) on Feb 18. Playoffs start the week of Feb. 21.

“We are proud of what we have done so far, but we are still going to have to be more consistent down the stretch if we want to remain in first place,” said Ho. “Even though we have played well recently, it’s still anyone’s game.”