Washington soccer begins preparations for 2018 season

Published 1:28 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

Rising up for 7 a.m. practice to work on tactics, defensive positioning and finishing drills for two and a half hours, before returning to Kugler Field in the late afternoon to scrimmage for two hours.

That’s what the Washington soccer team’s preseason practice schedule looks like as the Pam Pack prepares for the upcoming season, with head coach Jim Kozuch deciding who makes varsity and junior varsity, who’s a starter and who fills the positions graduating seniors left vacant by what his players show him on the field.

Washington actually got off to a late start, beginning team practices on Monday when the 2018 high school soccer preseason began on July 30.

“We started a week late. We had two teams playing in a summer league, so there was no rush to get into it because they were in the playoffs,” Kozuch said.

Sixteen Washington players, most of whom played on the varsity squad last year, played in an 8v8 league, where Kozuch’s players found themselves facing off against college players. After taking their knocks competing against more physically mature players who play at a higher level, Kozuch feels his players are more than ready for the upcoming season.

“Good preparation, they were playing against college guys,” Kozuch said. “We didn’t have a ton of wins, but I think playing against those guys is absolutely the best preparation you can possibly get.”

PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE: Sultan Alsudani splits two defenders during a preseason scrimmage. Alsudani is one of 14 returning seniors for Washington, giving the Pam Pack a team full of experience. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

Playing in the summer league isn’t the only exposure to college soccer Washington has had. For its early morning practice sessions, the Pam Pack has been receiving help from the Chowan University soccer team. In town for a youth soccer camp, Chowan head coach Chris Whalley, along with his assistant coaches and some of his players, has been working with Washington.

“It’s just a phenomenal experience (working with Whalley and his team),” Kozuch said. “Tactically, these guys are wonderful players.”

As the season opener on Aug. 20 approaches, Kozuch has major decisions to make regarding his team. He still hasn’t decided who will be on the varsity team and who will make junior varsity. This decision is made especially difficult because 14 seniors and 13 juniors are returning to the team. But there are three guys who look certain to be on the varsity squad.

“Before the season ended last year, I named three guys captain, Timmy Anglim, Cody Pinkham and Oscar Espinoza,” Kozuch said. “Those guys have been with the program from day one. They worked hard all summer long; I called upon those guys all summer long to pull these guys together for practices, for a group chat, any kind of thing, and those guys, they were all wonderful leaders, great players.”

While Kozuch feels confident about where his team stands at most positions, thanks to so many players returning, there is one spot that is wide open. Senior Spencer Worley and junior Will Crisp find themselves in a battle to be named the starting goalkeeper.

“The biggest position that we lost last year was our goalie. So we have a really cool goalie competition right now. There’s two guys fighting for one position and they’re both absolutely busting their tails,” Kozuch said. “We’ve got our whole midfield back, most of our defenders back. As far as key positions, the goalie position is one that I was worried about, but I’m not too concerned about the other guys. I think the other guys are going to be well off. They’ve all been playing hard and they’ve gotten better.”