Boys’ Soccer: Same team, tougher league

November 8, 2010 — by Anshu Siripurapu

If the members of the boys’ soccer team want to make it to CCS again, they will have to win in a tougher league and without last year’s top scorer.

The team’s tryouts began Nov 1 and continued throughout the week. This year, the team had minor changes to their coaching staff, since Adam Clarke will be returning as varsity head coach, but JV will be taken over by Michael Patrick. The team also has recruited a new keeper coach, Jim Hull. Saratoga high alumnus Brandon Chow will be returning to help coach.

Pre-season games will start after Thanksgiving with a scrimmage against Harker. One big team challenge is filling the gap left behind by 2010 alumnus Sean Ashe, a key offensive player, scoring 19 goals the past season.

“Last year Sean led the league in goals, led the league in assists, and did so with a very unselfish style of team soccer,” said Coach Clarke. “He was brilliant and a great role model for our young team last year who had a freshman keeper and 9 sophomores.”

The team’s offensive strategy will need to adapt to account for the loss of the team’s best scorer and the higher league.

“The 2nd string definitely needs to step up to not only contribute in games when called upon, but also to raise the level of play at training to make for a competitive environment,” said Clarke.

Although they lost a valuable player, the team will benefit from retaining underclassman players from last year. Last year’s captains, juniors Manish Raghavan and Jon Junqua, both defenders, will add both their skill and experience to the team.

Raghavan is optimistic about the team’s chances of making it to CCS and hopes to proceed even further than last year.

“Last year we made it to the quarter finals in CCS,” said Raghavan. “I think we can definitely make it even further this year because of our strong returning team.”

In addition to losing a valuable player, the team has the additional challenge of advancing to the higher De Anza “A” league, up from the El Camino “B” league from last year. The top three teams from the “A” league automatically qualify to CCS.

“The main problem we’ll face is playing better teams,” said junior and center midfielder Rajiv Ramakabir. “Other than that, I don’t see too many problems since our team is very similar to last year’s.”

Clarke, like his players, remains optimistic about the team’s chances this year.

“Playoffs are our goal for this year and if we play well then we have a shot at winning the title,” said Clarke. “However, each and every team in the De Anza is very, very strong—but I like our chances and my boys do too.”

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