The Liberator

Boys’ soccer scores big this season

Charles Taylor, Staff Writer

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The LBJ Jaguars varsity soccer team capped off its performance in the annual Copa Akins soccer tournament with a 1-1 (4-3 in penalties) win against Bowie. With a record of 2-1-2, the LBJ boys’ soccer team started off the 2018-19 preseason strong and looked to continue that into the regular season. Despite a 2-1 loss against McCallum in its first district game, the team maintains its positive outlook on the season. Head Coach Cipriano Martinez attributed the team’s overall success to its leadership and improved defense.

“A lot of team chemistry, you know, seniors are really leading,” Martinez said. “Most of our defense is seniors. I think that’s what really has helped us this year. They’re experienced, and I think that’s gonna be the turning point… We found the missing link, and I think that’s going to help us to build up a better and stronger team this year compared to last year.”

LASA senior and goalkeeper Ian McIntosh said the team’s inability to finish goal-scoring opportunities has hindered it thus far in the season. According to McIntosh, the team’s chemistry and defense are reasons for its early success.

“[The team’s chemistry] is going pretty well,” McIntosh said. “We’re still missing a few players with injuries and whatnot. I think our defense is looking a lot better than a lot of people had expected. Our midfield’s looking good, playing nice balls to the forwards. We’re not quite at that point where we’re finishing our chances off yet. Once we start finishing our chances and gelling a little bit better as a team, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

LBJ senior James Kadogo said one of the problems that led to the team’s 2-1 loss vs. McCallum was its players’ tendency to hold the ball for too long before passing or shooting. According to Kadogo, the team must adopt a different strategy to be successful.

“We were keeping the ball for a lot of minutes, doing nothing, without thinking, just running with the ball; you can’t do that,” Kadogo said. “We know that next game you have to sort of, like, do it one touch, one touch and keep picking up, keep going forward.”

McIntosh said that last year, the team was reliant on long passes from the defenders up to the forwards in its attack. According to McIntosh, the team’s transition away from this strategy has benefited its play.

“This year, we’re playing a lot more on the ground, a lot more possession based on balls from the defense, to the midfield, and forward to the strikers, which I personally like a lot,” McIntosh said. “I think it’s going to benefit us in the long run, just keeping possession and wearing teams down so at the end of the game we can get them on a counter or something.”

While improved tactics are vital to the team’s success, according to Martinez, mental strength is also an important component. Martinez said one of the key aspects of the team is its gritty mentality and tenacity even when at a disadvantage.

“We played Bowie in the Akins Tournament,” Martinez said. “I mean, they had a heck of a fast, quick forward who scored on us within three minutes at the beginning of the game. The team just never let down. They never let down. They kept playing and playing. They had that mentality that they didn’t care who they were playing against; they had a game to play, and that really helped a whole lot. And I think that was probably the turning point because we wound up tying the game in the second half and then going into PKs and won the PKs.”

Kadogo said the team includes new players since last season. According to Kadogo, these players have done a good job of stepping into their new roles.

“New people from JV A, JV B, you know they’re playing like they’ve been playing varsity for years,” said Kadogo. “They’ve got what it takes to be in varsity. That’s interesting because it takes a lot of skills and good mentality to be in varsity.”

McIntosh said that many teams in LBJ’s district are much improved from last season. According to McIntosh, the team’s biggest challenge for the rest of the season will be staying focused and playing its best throughout its difficult schedule.

“Well, our district this season is really, really good,” McIntosh said. You could say there’s six or seven or eight [good teams]. Dripping [Springs], McCallum, Lockhart, Lanier, Travis, even Crockett and Reagan this year, they’re all good. So the schedule, playing two games a week, is kind of a gauntlet because you’re playing a team that’s really good on Saturday. And win or lose, you’re tired, you know, big game and whatnot, and you gotta turn around and do it again next Wednesday or something. So it’s going to be a challenge of staying focused from one day to the next.”

“Well, I’m excited about the season starting and I’m ready to go, and I know the team is ready to go,” Martinez said. “I keep telling them that they’ve been out there hustling, practicing every day together, helping each other and talking to each other and picking up each other when someone is down, pick them up and encourage them to continue playing harder. And that’s really great. I’m excited about it and I’m ready to go.”

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Boys’ soccer scores big this season