Soccer Eyes NCS Championship

Lindsay Wilson, Lifestyle Editor

Boys’ soccer is on track for the title of Diablo Foothill Athletic League and top seed in NCS. They are undefeated in league and have won every game they have placed in Northern California.

Their recent 1-0 victory over Pinole Valley on Saturday, January 11, solidified the team’s dominance.

According to Coach Shane Carney, the team did not extensively prepare for the match against Pinole Valley due to their showdown with Dublin High School the previous day. He was confident that the boys would win if they stuck to their style of play. “With a big DFAL match-up at Dublin on Friday night, we really didn’t discuss the Pinole match-up until we showed up on Saturday. We felt like if we played our game against them, we would get the win,” he explained.

“I was happy with the team defensive effort, as we didn’t allow Pinole much time or space to work with outside of two mental errors by individual players,” Carney said.

James Keeble was also satisfied with the team’s performance. “In general, there was a steady flow of chances, and every substitution that came in worked hard,” he explained.

“Mike Samaniego had a very strong game defensively and scoring what should have been our second goal before the referee called it back for a foul off of the ball,” Carney said.

Carney also praised Keeble, who scored the lone goal, junior Ryan Donat for his assist, and junior Seth Kofkman’s orchestration of “quality offensive opportunities.”

But, Carney felt that the boys did not have a high possession rate and that there were too many unforced errors. “We didn’t maintain possession of the ball at the rate I would have liked, which affected our opportunity to create quality offensive chances. We had way too many unforced turnovers of the ball, particularly in our midfield,” he explained.

In the second half of the season, Carney hopes to work on maintaining possession and preventing unforced errors. He believes that this will relieve the defense of the pressure they have been under recently from all of the turnovers in the middle of the field. “We have to start maintaining possession of the ball much better. We give it up way too easily – many times when we aren’t even being pressured at a high rate. We play strong defense, but our backline can only do so much if they’re continually being faced with attacks due to a loss of possession in the midfield. In turn with that, our movement off of the ball is poor, which is a major reason for the large number of turnovers,” he said.

Kofman is convinced that they will be more successful if they become offensive minded. “We need to find a way to score more goals,” he said.

Keeble also believes that the team needs to focus on being more disciplined and dependable. “We need to work on maturity and consistency,” he said. The team is already heading in this direction. According to Keeble, the team is cutting back on “excessive celebration.” When Keeble scored in the Pinole Valley game, he and his teammates set up for the kickoff instead of running to the bench and celebrating with the rest of the team.

Looking back on the last few months, Carney is satisfied with the team’s performance but is expecting more from them in the rest of the season. “We haven’t lost to a team from Northern California yet this season and sit 4 points clear in DFAL at the moment, but we haven’t had the dominant performances I expect. If we can improve the crispness in our possession and attacks, it will relieve a lot of our defensive pressure and make games much easier for everyone,” he said.

“Our goal is to win the DFAL title and earn a top seed in the NCS playoffs. Obviously, we feel like we can win NCS as well, but we need to start playing better,” Carney said.

Keeble is confident that the team’s dream will become reality. “We are a team. When we really have to do something, we do it.”