Reigning regional champs aim high

Focus on mental toughness and teamwork helps the team improve its record. Junior Eduardo Suarez shots a corner kick against St. Charles North.

By Nayeli Lara, Sports Editor

A rough start hasn’t damped the boys soccer team’s goal to win conference.

“As a team, we talked about having the same expectations we had last year, being the first regional champions in 17 years,” head coach Jose Villa said.

The team’s expectations were not met at the beginning of the season.

“We lost the first game (against) St. Charles East, the team we beat in regionals last year,” senior Chris Medina said. “From that, we’ve come back.”

After losing the first two games, the boys were determined to get a win. Villa believes mental toughness is the way to bring his team back on track.

“We started off with a rough week, losing to St. Charles East and Wheaton Academy, it just seemed like something negative happened and we put our heads down. It was a mental lapse, a lack of focus, and us being mentally weak,” Villa said. “We’ve been really working on touching on that in practice.”

Keeping a cool head in games is one part of the team’s approach for success, another is focusing on playing as a team.

“We’ve been struggling with communication on the field and trusting one another,” Medina said. “We’ve been cleaning that up.”

Becoming mentally tough and trusting one another has helped the team perform better in tournaments.

“We just wrapped up the PepsiCo Showdown Tournament, the largest high school tournament in the U.S. with 30 of the top teams competing,” Villa said. “Us going three wins and one loss was a huge positive for us. Not many teams can go in and come out with a 3-1 record.”

Overall the losses in the beginning of the season is a positive for the team.

“It opened our eyes and let us know where we’re at, instead of us just thinking we would stroll in and beat some of these teams. It was a wake up call, which we would rather have at the beginning of the season than later when playoff time comes around,” Villa said.

Since the first three games of the season, the team has been able to improve their record and still believes they can accomplish much in the new conference.

“My expectation is that we can win conference,” Medina said.