Kicking into gearPublished 6:09pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013
In 2012, the Pam Pack soccer team got off to a slow start but finished on a high note as it picked up six wins in the second half of the season, with three of them coming on opponent’s Senior Night.
“Last year we struggled the first time through our schedule,” said Washington’s eighth-year coach Jimmy Kozuch. “But the second time around we beat a bunch of teams that beat us the first time around. We had a pretty good second half of the season. Unfortunately, we just started off really slow.”
This season, Washington is hoping to pick up where it left off but it will have to do so without some key graduated players.
“We lost a lot of defensemen,” Kozuch said. “We lost Philip Peaden and Michael McKeel and Turner Fodler. They were three seniors that were pretty good and I think McKeel and Peaden will be playing at Peace this year.”
The good news is that Washington returns five starters from last year’s six-win team that Kozuch can lean on this year.
“We got some guys coming back in junior Lupe Barrera, goalie William Tate, who started as a freshman last year, and senior forward Alex Donadio,” Kozuch said.
The Pam Pack must get off to a better start this year and Kozuch said he believes it can thanks to his players offseason work.
“We started off slow last year but I think this year we had a lot of guys who have worked harder in the offseason,” Kozuch said. “Our expectations are a little bit higher to start this year.”
Though it’s early in the preseason, Kozuch has been impressed by what he’s seen so far.
“I think that we’ll have a pretty good team,” Kozuch said. “We have a good core of players. We had a lot of players that played in the offseason, which is something that we really haven’t had much of in the past. They seem like they play very well together. They’re very coachable guys and this year (with the move to a 2-A classification) we will be playing against teams that are closer to our school size. We’re not setting our expectations any lower than winning the conference.”
While this year’s squad may lack in returning starters, Kozuch said the team on a whole has a great attitude and that is something he feels will translate on to the field.
“I think the strength of the team is that we really don’t have any guys that are very egotistical,” Kozuch said. “We have a team that has very good chemistry on and off the field. Usually teams that are friends and play together on the field and hang out off it tend to do better on the field.”
For now, Kozuch said Washington will need to keep working on the fundamentals until its season opener against Edenton on Aug. 20.
“We have to work on a little bit of everything,” Kozuch said. “We have to work on our overall team game and pick up the pace of our play.
“Overall team defense is going to be a big thing for us. But, we just have to come together and trust each other on and off the field to help each other out as much as we can.”