A team with past struggles hopes to turn the program around with their experience, attitude and 'advanced soccer'
“Listen to that talk, the beautiful sound of focus on the field.”
Those were the words of Moffat County High School boys soccer
coach Mick Havrilla watching his team practice earlier this week.
“The other night they actually started to click,” he said. “You can feel the electricity coming from the field when that happens, it’s exciting.”
Last year the electricity for the team couldn’t light much more than a two-volt light bulb. In fact, the boy’s soccer program has won one varsity game in the last three seasons.
Yet, with a new season brings renewed hopes to a team that has one of the largest squads in school history 34 athletes and a strong core of juniors and seniors.
“We’ve been playing together since fifth and sixth grade traveling teams,” said senior goalie Brandon Duarte. “We work well together and should do better as a team.”
After a year away from the program, Havrilla has rejoined the team and the players are happy to have him back.
“We’ve had three coaches in four years but it’s nice to have Mick back,” said Duarte. “Things feel like they are back to normal.”
The upperclassmen on this year’s team have plenty of varsity experience. There was only one senior on the squad in ’01 and they all saw varsity time as freshman and sophomores.
“The difference this year is that they will be playing against athletes their own age,” Havrilla said. “They’ve been playing kids older than them the last three years and now it is their age group.”
Confidence in the season is prevalent among the upperclassmen.
“We have a lot more of a team atmosphere this year,” said senior Eric Havrilla.
“The attitude in the past had been that kids came to screw around at practice,” said junior Brad Hurd. “This year it’s more like we’re here to win.”
Havrilla listed some of the team’s strengths as the ability to play and practice as a team, their depth and the willingness to not slack.
“We don’t have any cliques as a team,” he said. “This group has played together for a long time and they are looking out for each other to play better.”
Focus in practice is important to Havrilla because of how it will carry over in games.
“We are teaching them to play total f,” he said. “If they take that into the game and learn to apply it in high pressure situations things will work in our favor.”
Top returning players to the team include Duarte, Eric Havrilla, Hurd and junior Derrick Thompson.
Coach Havrilla called Duarte “one of the best keepers I’ve seen at the high school level.” The 6’3″ Duarte is a physical force in the box and judging from the past, he has had plenty of experience stopping shots.
Eric Havrilla will be the anchor in the middle for the team, controlling the defense and starting the attack.
Hurd was the team’s top scorer last year and will roam between the midfield and forward positions.
Thompson, who Havrilla said is one of the hardest workers on the team, will be on the field whenever possible. The coach’s hope for D.T. this year is that he will be able to “display his skills in the open field more.”
Havrilla said he has noticed the pattern of success and failure with the MCHS teams of the past in relation to the feeder programs at the younger levels.
He said that the youth program was strong for this team and active when the current senior and junior class were younger. In the past the MCHS high school teams have fared well when the pre-high school feeder programs were solid and that should bode well for this year’s team.
While Havrilla won’t make any promises, one can tell by his smile during and optimisticalmost giddyattitude during practice that he believes this year will be different for the Bulldog soccer team.
“I don’t want to make any guarantees about this team,” he said. “But a lot of them are playing advanced soccer and with their attitude we should have fun and do well.”
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