Losing Season Snaps Soccer’s NCS Streak

Madeleine Singh and Beck Chambers

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For the first time in 12 years, boys’ varsity soccer failed to earn a spot in the North Coast Section (NCS) playoff tournament, finishing the regular season with a 6-13-4 record. Just 2 years ago, the team advanced to the NCS Championship game before being defeated by De Anza High School.

Head coach Aaron Girard, new to the position this year, noted that his squad lacked critical size and experience. “This year’s team was one of the youngest Campolindo varsity soccer teams in history,” he said. “Out of 20 rostered players on game days, we usually only had 2 to 3 healthy seniors, and the rest of our team were underclassmen.  In contrast, we routinely played teams with anywhere between 10 to 14 seniors on the field.  At high school level, that gap really puts your team at a huge deficit with regards to experience, speed, quickness, height, weight, and most importantly, leadership – everything.”

Varsity athlete junior Vivek Lashkari agreed with his coach. “A lot of the players this year for varsity did not have that much varsity experience, and that really took us down for the season,” he said. “Not everyone was always on the same page, and the chemistry wasn’t there to win the important games.”

Girard said the team faced a difficult game schedule and the absence of many essential team members, especially during the preseason as soccer overlapped with fall athletics. “Many teams in our division had a slew of easy games weaved into their schedule, whereas we only had roughly 3 of those games out of 23 games total,” he said. According to Girard, goalie junior Lucas Allen and “3-time All-Conference stud” senior Seppi Ortman were both unable to participate in the season’s first 6 games due to their participation in the NCS football playoffs.

“We also had 3 of our 11 starting players go down with long-term injuries in the 2nd half of the season for the most important league games,” Girard added.

According to Lashkari, that lack of success was also a mental issue. “I think the team suffered a downfall this season because there was a poor attitude to this season and we had problems in the preseason,” he said.

“[The last time the team didn’t make NCS was] the last time hell froze over… which was the 2005-2006 season, ending a streak of 11 years. It’s about as PG as I can express my current emotions,” said former varsity coach Shane Carney, who had coached the program for almost a decade before giving up the position in order to focus on family.

Such a decrease in success raised the question of whose coaching style provided the best fit for the program. “Shane’s coaching style was a lot more blunt [than Girard’s] and we were able to communicate with each other in a better fashion,” admitted Lashkari.

However, Carney has little intention of returning to his position as head coach. “As of now, the program is Aaron’s,” said Carney. “If the position opened back up, I’d have to think about it, but I am thoroughly enjoying being able to be home at nights with my daughter. Putting a cute baby to sleep in a warm house beats out dealing with smelly teenage boys in freezing weather.”

Girard considers the season to have been a learning experience for athletes and coaches alike. “[This] was a season unlike any other I’ve ever been a part of in 30-plus years of playing and coaching,” said Girard.

The team’s coaches and players are already looking toward next season. “As a team, we handled many challenges well, but then a couple others were things we have to learn from, prepare for, and be better at next year. If our players and coaches work hard in the offseason, the future can be very bright for these underclassmen,” said Girard.

“We better get it done next year,” added Lashkari.

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