Uni boys reflect on soccer season

On August 12th, 2019, the Uni High boys soccer team returned to the field for another exciting season of Uni High soccer.

With the loss of many great seniors from the graduate class of 2019 and the addition of new JV and Varsity players, the team had to adjust throughout the season as new skill sets and levels of experience were added while old skill sets and levels of experience were lost.

From Day 1, the players reflected on some important factors to the team’s success and how those important factors progressed during the season. 


Team Environment 

The team environment is an important focus for the players and the team as the interactions between the players sets the tone heading into the new season. This team environment may shift from year to year. 

Senior and veteran soccer player Steven Blanke talked about how the loss of many players affected the team environment for the Varsity soccer team this year.  

“At Uni every single year… there is always this environment of ‘We have to win’ because it’s one of those things that Uni is perennially good at,” Blanke said. “There is a lot less of that [this year] because of the fact that [we lost] so many fantastic seniors… It’s a major blow but I think that the environment out there at practice has been one of ‘Let’s work hard, let’s try to maintain the winning culture, and let’s prepare for the future.’” 

Besides the winning culture, some players mentioned the purposes of playing to get better but also having fun in the process.

David Sun, senior and co-captain of the team, reflected on this: “Most of the time our practices are pretty productive… Sometimes it’s a bit chill, like we mess around, have a little fun, but it’s all good ‘cause we do the sport to have fun, not to always be super serious.”

John Brownridge, freshman and first year JV soccer player, agreed, talking about how this energy came out in practices. “[Our JV coach] likes to do some fun stuff with us, make jokes, but he also understands the importance of doing drills and having intense practices,” Brownridge said. 


Team Struggles

With any new sports season comes a new set of struggles. For the Uni High boys soccer team, the most notable struggle seemed to be related to team mindsets. 

Junior Curtis Althaus gave his thoughts about having the right mentality at any time. 

“Having the rest mindset before the game, after the game, during practice, it tends to go everywhere,” Althaus said. “If we’re really committed to a game, we tend to have really good outcomes, like we tied Central 3-3 which was a huge result, and then there are like outliers where we tie Blue Ridge 2-2 which is not good… I know the potential of our team is much higher than we might portray for other schools, but I think our mindset has been the biggest challenge.” 

Blanke agreed with Althaus. 

“I think that sometimes the other team comes in with something we are not expecting. We underestimate them. A good example of that is the Blue Ridge game where we tied 2-2,” Blanke said. “We came in expecting them to be that team that lost 3-0 to the team that we beat 6-0. It turns out they weren’t. They were better than that… So we’ve tried to change to a mentality of ‘every team is the best until we prove otherwise.’” 

Brooks Hu, a sophomore and second-year varsity player, also added, “If we had an easy game, people would not think about it too much, and we’d go on and not play very well.” 

Hu also talked about another struggle for the team being the simple fact that other schools were bigger in student population. “We have a bunch of people who have played soccer, and a bunch of people who haven’t,” said Hu. “It’s difficult to compete with a team who can select their students from a big student population.”


Memorable Moments 

Every sports season comes with many memorable moments. Even in the first few weeks of their season, it was no different for the soccer team. 

One of the biggest moments recalled by the players was their tie against the local Central Maroons. When asked to relive their favorite moments of the Central game, many varsity players had lots to say.

“That had been a game that literally probably zero people in the world thought that we had a chance in, and we tied them 3-3,” said Steven Blanke, describing the significance of the game. Curtis Althaus said that his favorite moment was “just seeing everybody being able to work together.”

John Brownridge excitedly recalled his favorite moment of the first few weeks being when he scored a goal within ten minutes of his very first Uni soccer game.

“I didn’t really notice my surroundings or anything happening, like if there was a defender was there. And when I got near the goal, I just shot it and it somehow ended up going over the goalie…and then our bench started cheering, and so I was surprised that I actually scored.”

Lawrence Zhao, sophomore and a first-year soccer player, also expressed the teams support for Brownridge during this moment: “he’d never played a game before, [it was the] first game of the season, and 10 minutes in, he scores, and we were all really happy for him.”