The Maricopa High School boys’ varsity soccer team is looking to turn things around this season with a uniquely unified squad largely comprised of senior defenders.
After the folly of the 2015-2016 season the Rams are stomping out any ill spirits left behind and, as their current 2-1 record shows, are working together to make victories happen.
Head coach Cortney Kellenaers has been with the team for seven years and remembers how easy it was in the past for the team to become infected by the poor attitudes of a few players. Now, he hopes the team will see the new season as a clean path on which they can use their camaraderie to build steady momentum.
“I think our strength is going to be our unity this year,” Kellenaers said. “It’s a much more cohesive group this year and they’re a little bit mo re willing to work for each other.”
The 2015-2016 season was, in Kellenaers’ words, a “rebuilding year” due to the unfortunately lopsided record of only two victories and 10 losses. This season, however, is poised to be a strong one for the Rams as 10 of 23 varsity players are returning seniors. Many of them, having played with each other in the past, have developed bonds that transcend the pitch, a fact Kellenaers does not take for granted.
“It’s nice having the seniority,” Kellenaers said. “A lot of these guys have been together for awhile, and they’re all good friends, which helps.”
Many of this season’s returning seniors are defensive players, another fact coach Kellenaers doesn’t take for granted. He recognizes having defensive leaders on the field is crucial to the team’s success, but, despite their positive direction, they can’t get ahead of themselves.
“A lot of the seniors are defenders, so it’s not just the scorers that are leading the team,” Kellenaers said. “But still, we’re taking it one game at a time.”
This season team is facing a new section of opponents, some of whom they haven’t faced in years, if ever before. Of those teams, the Rams don’t exactly have a defined rival this season. Kellenaers did, however, admit to being a bit territorial with Vista Grande and Casa Grande, the two teams nearest Maricopa geographically speaking. And, after sweeping Vista Grande 5-0 at their match Friday, the Rams appear to be maintaining that territory.
So far this season the Rams hold a winning record of two wins and one loss with their other victory coming from a 2-1 season opener at home against Queen Creek on Wednesday. Since then the Rams have experienced one defeat, losing 0-2 against Mountain Pointe Saturday
The Rams are set to square off against Desert Ridge in tournament play at Williams Field in Gilbert tonight at 5 p.m.
Nov. 30 H Queen Creek 2-1 win
Dec. 2 H Vista Grande 5-0 win
Dec. 3 @ Mountain Pointe 2-0 loss
Dec. 6-8 Tournament
Dec. 13 @ Poston Butte 6 p.m.
Dec. 14 H Kellis 6 p.m.
Dec. 16 H Williams Field 6 p.m.
Dec. 19 @ Mesquite 6 p.m.
Dec. 22 @ Sierra Linda 6 p.m.
Jan. 9 @ Apollo 6 p.m.
Jan. 11 H Ironwood 6 p.m.
Jan. 17 H Sunnyslope 6 p.m.
Jan. 19 @ Casa Grande 6 p.m.
Jan. 24 @ McClintock 6 p.m.