How will the boys’ varsity soccer team do this year without last year’s seniors and this year’s new athletes? That is the big question that Michael Navarro, varsity head coach, is looking to answer at the start of the season.
The boys’ soccer team lost some good players last year, but it has gained some strong athletes that can help take their place. Navarro said that the “New underclassmen on varsity are freshman center-back Noah Zygmunt and freshman center-mid Quinn Gavin. We lost two key players in their position but these guys are something special to look out for.” Navarro said that the team has some strong talent coming from these underclassmen and he is excited to see them in game action.
Navarro has also been playing soccer since he was a little kid. He said, “I played club growing up. Played college football and soccer at Glendale CC and Arizona Christian.” Clearly his playing experience has helped the varsity team get better over the last couple of seasons.
Junior forward Liam McSherry, one of the team’s top athletes, has been playing soccer for a long time. He has always loved playing sports and soccer just suited him the best. McSherry said, “I have been playing soccer ever since I was 8 years old.”
McSherry was the lead scorer the past two years on varsity and hopes to have the most goals this year and for next year. “Individual expectations for the year are to stay the leading scorer on the team I did as a freshman on varsity and last year I did it again as a sophomore, so I want to keep that going into my junior and senior years. Another expectation is to get more scholarship offers, because college soccer is a dream of mine and I want to make my options more wide open. Team expectations are to make it to playoffs again this year and make it farther than we did last year. State is also on our minds because we all realize that we have the potential to make it there so we just have to work hard now so it pays off later,” said McSherry.
Bradley Semro, a junior forward, has “been playing since around 4 and I like to play right mid.” Semro said that he loved the sport right away and learned quite a bit from his dad when he was first starting out.
Semro wants to be able to do all he can to help out the team. He really wants to make it back to the playoffs and go even farther this year. Semro said, “For individual, I want to do all that I can to help my team reach the playoffs and I have the same hope for our team.”
Senior goalie Andrew Sodhi has been playing for a long time and has played every position on the field. Sodhi said, “I had never been able to find a position that best fit my abilities. I started as a forward because I had the shot power when I was younger, but wasn’t fast enough. I then became a midfielder where I was great at passing, but didn’t have enough stamina. I then became a defender where I was big and strong enough to win balls, but still didn’t have the speed. I found goalkeeping and it is perfect as my best qualities have been highlighted, tall, athletic and good reflexes.”
Sodhi wants to win state and be the best goalie in the league. He said, “I believe this team can win state. Last year, we lost in the second round of playoffs, and that was dealing with players being suspended, injuries, and players leaving. With a full team, I know we can go all the way. My personal expectation is to be the best goalkeeper possible. I want to set records never seen before at NDP. I want to have the most shutouts, least goals allowed, most saves, most wins, etc. I always hold myself and others to the highest expectations in order to get the best out of us.”
Navarro wants to improve the team with its overall strength and speed. He wants the team to be well connected so the athletes can trust each other to do their job and win games. Navarro said, “Our team has improved by hitting the weight room and getting stronger. Speed is another thing I have noticed and that we gained a little more pace. Finally, team chemistry. The boys seem to be very close and connect with one another on and off the field. The team is not going to 100% agree on every decision since every year they are a different team.”
McSherry said, “This year’s team has a decent amount of chemistry. Some of us have played together in the past so we work better together but others who are just joining the team have a little catching up to do. I think as we get into practices and start to get a feel for things. The chemistry will become greater and we will have success.”
It is just a matter of time before they the team’s chemistry gets to its full potential, but after only one month together, they are already acting like a family. Sodhi said, “Our chemistry looks great so far. We’ve only had a few practices so far, but we’ve already begun to communicate and play well together.” Everybody who was on the team last year is very bonded with each other and the new kids are fitting in well.”
Semro said, ‘Most of the team is the same as last year so the chemistry is strong and the new players are fitting in well also.”
Navarro said, “Our leaders would be Austin Yowell, Ben Osland and Nolan McLane. They are quiet but strong leaders on our team but have the respect from everyone to follow. They work hard and the team matches their work ethic.” They have lost a lot of good seniors that hurt the team and some started.
Sodhi said, “It hurt us hard as we had some great players leave us. We lost 4-5 starters so it has hurt bad, but the one thing I have learned playing with this team is we have overcome everything thrown at us.”
Everybody thinks that they lost those amazing seniors but they have to overcome that and the new seniors will help a lot. McSherry said, “Last year’s seniors were all amazing players and losing them has made a very big impact on the team but the seniors that we have this year will be able to fill their shoes and do even more. Everyone will have to step up this year to make up for the seniors that were lost last year.”
Semro said, “It will be tough without some of our seniors from last year but I don’t think it will affect us that much.” He believes that even though they lost those amazing seniors, they have also gained a lot of talent with this year’s new group.
Every team is not the best; they have to train hard to get better individually and together as a team. Sodhi said, “We need to improve on our offense as we had one of the best defenses last year. Every starting defender and myself were all apart of one of the All-Conference teams last year. We struggled to score, but we knew how to create chances.” Their defense knows how to stop the ball and keep the team in the game, but they need the offense to do there part in scoring.
McSherry feels the same way He said, “I feel like we could work on things that most people would think are things that should just come natural to a soccer player. One of those things is taking penalty kicks, because that’s how we got knocked out in playoffs last year. From what I have seen in practice we need to work on shooting because you can’t score if you don’t shoot. We all have the ability to do these things, it’s just a matter of finding that ability and bringing it out.”
Semro said they needed to continue working more as a team, especially passing and communication.
The boys’ soccer team has a lot of talent, from defense to offense, and from freshmen to seniors. Even though they lost impactful seniors last year, they have a lot of new talent coming up to play varsity this year. Each player needs to work on each of his specific skills to help the group become the team they can be and need to be to get back to the playoffs and hopefully win a state championship.