Senior Captains Nathaniel Kuffner (right) and Justin Neustaetter (left) stretching before practice.
After a strong 2017-18 season with only one tie game and one loss, the varsity boys’ soccer team was able to win the MCAL championship. As they head into the 2018-19 season, the team is looking to build chemistry with their new players and develop new strategies as they face old opponents.
Kuffner dribbling the ball alongside teammates in a practice drill.
Although the team faced a somewhat chaotic pre-season because of the recent fires limiting time for tryouts, coach David Siracusa and new senior co-captains Justin Neustaetter and Nathaniel Kuffner have high expectations for their season. There have only been a few Redwood practices before tryouts, but most of the players were able to train during the offseason through club teams such as Marin FC. Though this keeps many of the players in shape, it is difficult to jump into the season with a limited amount of time to develop the team as a whole, according to Siracusa. After losing key midfield players such as Eamon Rogan (MCAL player of the year) and Brian Diaz (former team captain), team development is necessary to keep competing at a high level, according to Neustaetter. Constant practices with incoming and returning varsity players have allowed the team to get a better sense of each other’s playing styles, creating a quality team dynamic.
“This year [our goal] is to continue the path that we’ve set for ourselves and maintain our reputation,” Neustaetter said.
According to Kuffner, along with taking charge of the typical leadership roles such as leading warmups, keeping the team focused and motivating the players, as defensive backs, the captains have a large responsibility to play at a high level during games. With the same starting line-up as last year, the defense has been able to continue building their momentum as they begin this season. With defense being one of the most crucial aspects to the team, they plan on using it as a focal point to strengthen players’ confidence on the field. Many of the players feel more comfortable during games knowing that they have a tenacious defense, according to Siracusa.
“Defense is one of our strengths as a team. We build from it, we attack from it, everything comes from our defense,” Siracusa said.
Neustaetter handling the ball during a possession drill.
Although still in development, their 3-5-2 formation (using only three defensive backs instead of typically four) was successful during the boys’ first game on Tuesday, Nov. 26, where they won 3-0. Though there was success in the games in which they utilized the new formation, the team has played four out of their six games this season with the more common 4-4-2 formation.
“Having that certainty in defense definitely gives our team a lot more confidence to move the ball up top, and leads to less frantic possessions,” Kuffner said.
Coach David Siracusa watches his players in a practice drill.
With this foundation set from the defense, it allows the team to expand on plays and take advantage of their versatility from the midfield.
With the well-rounded dynamic and high level of play from the first year and returning varsity players, the players are able to expand their formation and plays. This allows them to strengthen their skill set and ability to adapt when playing different teams.
As they continue through their season, the team has confidence in their ability to maintain offensive possession, dominate the field defensively and focus on each individual game which Siracuse hopes will lead to an undefeated future.
“We want to be able to go 1-0….20 times,” Siracusa said.