The Wilcox boys soccer squad went undefeated during last season’s makeshift COVID campaign. A 9-0-2 record had the Chargers in first place in the El Camino Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL). Unfortunately for the squad, a scheduling quirk—partly due to the back-and-forth debate over whether or not SCVAL teams would even be allowed to compete in playoffs—made for a full month off between the Chargers’ final regular season game and their opening round CCS match against Leigh.
Those Longhorns, however, had played multiple games just the week prior and had the advantage of being in a groove. Leigh would beat Wilcox 1-0 en route to winning the CCS Championship.
Wilcox Head Coach Josh Foley and his squad still refuse to use the long layoff as an excuse when asked about it at practice this week, but this writer will use it for them. Four weeks off and having to jump right into a playoff match against a team in a consistent groove, winning three out of four games from May 3 through May 13 before facing Wilcox on May 22 is a significant advantage when Wilcox had last played on April 21.
Looking forward, the Wilcox soccer team has plenty of good vibes to take away from last year’s undefeated season. There is a strong sense of continuity with Foley and his players as the young coach, a Wilcox 2014 graduate himself, coached most of his varsity roster when they were on junior varsity. Nearly everyone on the team refers to each other as family and the razor-sharp focus is apparent from this group of kids. They want to be the best they can every day on the pitch.
“Our record last year showed we had a really good, focused group that just wanted to get to work,” remarked Coach Foley. “They put their heads down and worked hard. We built up sort of a mantra during the season; it’s called ‘elite mentality,’ basically meaning we can do anything no matter how hard it is.”
“We’re like a family, everyone knows each other,” chimed senior Diego Balino-Martinez when asked how he would describe the identity of the team. “We have been playing with one another for years now. Some players have been playing with each other for two, three years now. Four, five years for some guys or even more having played club when they were little and came to the same high school.”
With all the chemistry built in from years of playing together, the Chargers are built to withstand any potential injury losses or, as in the case of last season, COVID-related absences. Coach Foley noted how pumped he is to have a handful of players back who sat out last season due to the pandemic. Defender Andres Lara and winger Ayato Yoneda missed their junior seasons last year but will be back this season. Guys returning and younger players developing and stepping up on varsity has everyone excited to get the season started.
“Our seniors were amazing last year, but I think we have an even better team this year. New guys who are really hungry,” noted junior center mid Adi Srivastava. “I’m really excited to play this season.”
Wilcox will open the season with a tournament in early December. The league season begins Dec. 16.