Soccer skills on display

Published 10:20 am Thursday, June 19, 2014




WASHINGTON — Soccer players from Washington, P.S. Jones and Pungo Christian Academy, as well as a handful of recent graduates and college students took to the outfield at Futrell Field this week to participate in the eighth annual Soccer Strength and Conditioning Camp.

Battling temperatures in the low- to mid-90s, 20 athletes arrived at Washington High School just before 8 a.m. Wednesday to show off their skillset and improve their game.

“It’s great preparation,” said Washington head soccer coach Jim Kozuch. “A lot of guys don’t do anything over the summer, unfortunately, so this is a reality check for those who haven’t played soccer since October.”

Kozuch’s three three-hour sessions, which began on Tuesday and will finish this morning, are designed to start slow and build player stamina. After Tuesday’s grueling cardio and conditioning workout, players battled through a series of agility exercises, beginning with an obstacle course. Stations ranged from side shuffling to sprint exercises.

Once players became accustomed to the course, the race was on to complete all the stations in the fastest time. Recent graduate and William Peace University defender Michael McKeel finished on top.

After a quick stretch, players took to the improvised field for a makeshift game of “gates,” one of many exercises developed by Kozuch. Players battled one-on-one, attempting to fool their counterpart and slip the ball through a two-foot “gate,” or set of cones. The game was meant to build technical footwork.

After a series of water breaks, mandatory in the stifling heat, Kozuch finished the session with a game of “touch post,” which forced the offense to become defenders and vise versa, as the target goal switched back-and-forth and each player was required to touch a designated post each time a goal was scored.

Physically exhausted, Kozuch, who participated alongside the players in all of the activities, wrapped up a little after 11 a.m.

The camp finished up this morning with a game consisting of three 20-minute quarters, ending in penalty shots. Everyone was forced to take one.

Kozuch led the Pam Pack to an 18-2-2 record in their first season in the Eastern Plains Conference. He expects the camp, along with the seven-on-seven summer league at J.H. Rose which started this week, will have his team conditioned and technically ready to make another historic run this fall.