Young boys’ soccer team looks to win league title

December 10, 2009 — by Roy Bisht

After securing a 5-5-2 record and a seventh place finish in the El Camino league last year, the sophomore-heavy team and a new coach are looking to make improvements and maybe even capture a league title.

In order to combat a lack of upperclassmen this year, new coach Adam Clarke resorted to pulling up many of the sophomores who tried out to compete along with the juniors and seniors at the varsity level.

“The sophomores really work well with the rest of the team,” said senior goalie Kevin Benzing. “They compete as well as any other team in the league.”

Bringing together a team made up of mostly sophomores with only five seniors—forwards Billy Minor and Dale Everett, midfielder Sean Ashe, defender Sawan Shah and goalie Benzing—can be difficult. However, Clarke has brought the team together “in such a short time,” said sophomore midfielder Rajiv Ramakabir.

“[Clarke] really understands us well and gets along well with everyone,” said Ramakabir. “He’s very flexible yet his main goal is improvement.”

The sophomores on the team include defenders Jonathon Junqua, Manish Raghavan, midfielders Nabil Arbouz, Max Darling and Stanton Ho, Ramakabir and Manuel Stimmer, goalie Paras Unadkat and forward Troy Doles.

The sophomores have adjusted to the older and bigger competition and are ready to compete on the varsity level.

“We have come pretty far since the first practice and we have a lot of confidence with the players and talent that we bring to the field,” said Ramakabir.

A few of the sophomores have also taken on leadership roles on the team, such as Raghavan, a returning varsity player who is one of the few captains on the team.

“[Raghavan’s] a very good team leader,” said Shah. “Even as a sophomore, he doesn’t just tell us advice, he also shows it to us when he’s playing in a game situation.”

Clarke’s coaching abilities and his youthful team were challenged Dec. 1 against Los Gatos. The Falcons played a strong defensive game, allowing in only two Wildcat goals. Ashe launched a penalty kick in for a goal, but the team could not capitalize, eventually falling to the Wildcats 2-1.

When the league season begins in early January, players think they will have a shot at being competitive, even without much varsity experience.

“We already feel more productive as a team, and this season seems like it is going to be a lot more optimistic than last year, so we are all really looking forward to the rest of our games,” said Junqua.

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