Girls soccer: Matadors start over from the top of a lower division

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Malini Ramaiyer

Photos by Malini Ramaiyer

A sudden clash of drums and cymbals reverberates across the lower field, but the girls soccer team remains undeterred in a team passing drill. Head Coach DJ Driscoll yells instructions over the blaring sounds and demonstrates different techniques to the girls, as they dribble the ball in square formations.

After winning only one preseason game during the 2013 season, this year’s girls soccer team expects a fun season in a lower division.

According to team captains juniors Alissa Paterson and Monica Polgar, the team struggled with losses last year after realizing the intensity of the league too late in the season.

“We were in the upper league [last year],” Assistant Coach Tibor Polgar said, “so there was a very big mismatch between our skill level and the skills of the other teams.”

Instead of teaching basic tactical principles, Driscoll has chosen to focus practice time on enhancing position-specific skills. The Matadors separate into groups based on position and work on the details of their position. Assistant Coach Lewis Saxelby helps forwards, Tibor instructs defenders and Driscoll takes midfielders.

Paterson and Monica hope to build a solid foundation for future years. For now, they want to make sure that new players adapt to the team by working on basic passes and other techniques before delving into complicated plays.

The team captains also plan to emphasize teamwork this year. Last year, few players knew each other and many had never played together. According to Paterson, it is very important to bond off the field in order to play well on the field.

“We want to really click as a team because it’s a really young team, so we want to mesh together so that next year can be better,” Paterson said. “This is probably going to be a building season and then next year will probably be a lot better.”

This year’s group is a young team. Senior Janaye Sakkas is the only senior on the team. More than half of the team consists of freshmen and sophomores. Driscoll explained that although the team has many new players, they are skilled athletes who play club soccer year round. With this experience, players can focus on shaping existing skills rather than building them.

Freshman Mansi Reddy has been playing soccer since she was three years old. Reddy believes she will easily mesh with the team because she knows the other four freshman on the team as well as some sophomores, who she played with on her club soccer team, De Anza Force. With tryouts last week, Reddy already understands that she must communicate to help achieve the team’s goal — win more.

“Honestly, since we only won one game last year, my goal is to be .500,” Driscoll said.

By building themselves back up slowly, the team hopes that it can set the pace for future years while also having a successful season.

The first home game will take place against Branham High School on Dec. 2 at 3:30 p.m.

Reported by Malini Ramaiyer and Varsha Venkat.