The last of the rain was subsiding for the MVHS boys soccer team’s first league game of the year on Jan. 3, but temperatures continued to drop as the game progressed. Alumni from the class of 2016, who were on break from their respective colleges, stood on the sidelines cheering the players on as they huddled together before breaking off and meeting their opponents—Wilcox HS—on the field. However, despite hours of practice and the support from old teammates, MVHS trailed for much of the game, ending with a final score of 4-2.
Senior and team captain Takeshi Ueno explained that the team mentality was lacking prior to the game, as this was their first game after winter break.
“One of our biggest issues is commitment,” Ueno said. “[During our last] practice, we didn’t have too [many]players, which definitely affected the game. I don’t blame our players because obviously we just came back from break.”
The game started out intense, as the team was alert and fought for every possession. Five minutes into the game, junior captain Itay Rabinovich scored the Matadors’ first goal. But despite the players gaining possession of the ball often and taking numerous shots on the goal, MVHS’ frequent turnovers prevented them from capitalizing on promising opportunities.
Junior Avi Libman noticed that the team had a lot of motivation going into the game and believed they would win, but seemed to lose that energy as the game progressed. At the half, coach Todd Kimble further urged that the team not lose their spirit by focusing on consistent focus and effort.
The half ended with a score of 2-1 in favor of WHS. Because of the cold and the lack of consistent practice, junior Seffy Khater mentioned feeling like the team lacked energy in the first half, something they hoped to change going into the second half.
“We were just talking about how the game was not over, and we’ve still got that chance,” Libman said. “They’re definitely a team we can beat quite easily we just needed to put our heads back into it.”
Early in the second half, however, WHS was able to put two goals past the MVHS goalie within five minutes, swinging the momentum in their direction. Because of this, MVHS decided to make a change at goalie. Though the team attempted to rally back, the lead eventually proved insurmountable.
“We just didn’t walk up to them to mark them,” Libman said. “We just were slow and didn’t put enough pressure on them. [The MVHS goal] kind of gave us a little bit of that energy.”
Khater noticed that different players reacted differently to WHS’ scoring. The goals brought the score to 4-1, leaving some MVHS players dejected and others motivated. Many saw this as the turning point and worked hard to improve their performances
“I felt like for some people, it put them really down because they felt like, ‘Yeah, we’re losing [by]a lot,’” Khater said. “But for a lot of the players I feel like that made them want to score more because they really wanted to win the game.”
Eventually, MVHS responded with a goal by Libman. But, despite many more shots on the goal throughout the remainder of the half, MVHS was unable to score another, and the game ended with a final score of 4-2 in favor of WHS.
Looking back at the game, Ueno pointed out that the team lacked communication and that their technical skills could definitely be worked on.
“I want to improve on passing, shooting, and also to bond as a team better,” Ueno said. “We [have to]cooperate more and do better. I think we [also]lacked communication. [The captains] should have talked more [to the team, as]our players were not focused enough.”
Also, in the upcoming week, Ueno hoped that the team could learn from the alumni that were going to practice with the team while they were on break and gain insights from their experiences.
Despite losing the game, MVHS was able to gain an understanding of WHS’ playing style in order to hopefully perform better in their next match up later in the season.
The team’s next home game is on Jan. 12 against Lynbrook HS.