During the first half of a high school soccer game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross Franklin)
By Eric Lindholm ’19
Though falling short in the state championship final, the 2017 Brophy varsity soccer team racked up a number of accomplishments and provided a memorable year in the program, most notably earning the ranking as #1 high soccer team in the nation and posting a commanding record of 22-1-2.
With a talented senior core departing, including Carter Clemmensen ’18 who won Gatorade’s player of the year for the state of Arizona, this upcoming season presents new opportunities and as well as new challenges for a changing squad.
Corbin Bernal ’19 is a defenseman and returning captain for this year’s upcoming squad. Concerning the team’s loss of 15 seniors, 8 of whom were starters, Bernal says that “we’re going to have a lot of open positions at tryouts this year, and a lot of new guys coming in.”
With the shift from an older core to a more mixed lineup, goaltender Nick Rau ’19 emphasizes that a culture of acceptance will be key. “Our job is to make it known to underclassmen that we’re not there to scare or intimidate them,” Rau said. “Once they are on the field and training with us, we’re all the same and we’re all under Brophy,” said Rau.
According to Rau, one of the many reasons why the Brophy soccer team has found so much success is because the program attracts many club players. Rau says that the “best high school teams tend to be the teams that have the most club players. For the most part, everyone on our team plays club.”
Rau notes that there is a stylistic distinction between club players and high school players. Rau says that high school soccer players often use the “kick the ball and run strategy” whereas club players are “more skilled and possession-based.”
Returning captain and defenseman Deric Hall ’19 commented on the team’s focus in the weight room during the offseason. “We [weren’t] focus[ed] on necessarily maxing out, but we focus[ed] on foundation structure and form,” says Hall. And I think that is good because I know a lot of people don’t lift sometimes for sports and if you don’t lift, I think there’s going to be forthcoming injuries because you need to have the strong foundation,” says Hall.
Hall additionally said that a changed mindset will be an area of improvement for the team. “You can’t go into every game thinking you are the best,” said Hall. “It’s our job as incoming seniors to make sure we make a foundation for not just ourselves, but the forthcoming generations at Brophy,” said Hall.
To find greater success in this upcoming season, Bernal credits Head Coach Paul Allen’s ’03 philosophy of selflessness and hard work. “Discipline is the most important thing he’s trying to instill in us,” Bernal said.
This discipline does not just manifest on the soccer field, but in the classroom as well.
Bernal said Mr. Allen cares about us as players and students and he just wants to make sure that we are eligible for each and every game and that we doing our work in the classroom so we can do our work on the field.
Mr. Allen said that the “culture we’ve set over the last two years is one of hard work and selflessness; putting the team first.”
When picking players, Mr. Allen is looking for “good overall individuals” that are “good locker room players” as well. “We’re not short on talent,” said Mr. Allen, and “the last thing you need is somebody who is a cancer to the team.”
In addition to the varsity team, Mr. Allen mentioned that the program has new goals for the younger programs: the JV and JV B teams. Mr. Allen said that “we’ve brought in new staff” and that “one of your goals is to help them and implement them into Brophy soccer as smoothly as possible.”
To help support the team, Rau and Bernal both asked for students to come out to as many games as possible. Furthermore, Hall said that the this upcoming team “will be a dark horse” to look out for. “Other teams are cocky, but we’re reserved and we’re collected and we’re going to come out strong,” said Hall.