Boys Varsity Soccer Off to a Poor Start of the New Season

All photos taken by Hadjar Yousfi. 

(Left) The Varsity Boy's Soccer Team, poses for a picture altogether. (Top Right) The Senior players on the Varsity Boy's Soccer Team pose for a picture together, Left to Right, Felipe Neves, Vinicius De Oliviera, Christian Osorno Vasquez, Kyle Lee, Bradley Toussaint, Allen Xiao, Angel Smilyanov, Jose Mejia-Guerreo, Erick Rodrigues. (Bottom Right) The Varsity Boy's Soccer Captains pose for a photo.

Ambitious is an understatement when describing the Malden High Varsity Soccer Team’s excitement for this year. Starting as early as mid-summer,  these boys have been determined to improve and grow as a team. Their goal of qualifying for the state tournament has driven them to work extra hard during practices and games.

The effort and dedication of the team did not go unrewarded, as they finally got their first win. On Monday, September 28th, the boys played against Gloucester at Pine Banks. Starting off this game, the players were still determined to get their first win, as this had been their 12th game of the season, which started on August 26th. 

Leaving last week, Head Coach Jeremiah Smith felt as though “emotionally, we have taken a hit because of our string of losses and ties.” He knew that the only way they could turn things around was by getting “one really good result,” to help boost morale, and get the ball rolling.

The team practicing before the game.

Monday's game seems to be just what the team needed to get started. During just the first half, Malden scored two goals on Gloucester. The first was scored by senior Erick Rodrigues, a striker for Malden’s Team. The next goal was a header, scored later in the first half, by senior Captain Christian Osorno Vasquez, a midfielder for the team, assisted by junior midfielder Fellipe Beneteli Domiciano’s corner kick.

Malden did their best to focus on “attacking the next opponent,” as Matteo Tah, a Sophomore defender explained. He explained that moving on from thinking about missed opportunities will help them be ready for the rest of the season.

After half time the score was in Malden’s favor at 2-0, but Gloucester scored early in the first half, setting the stage for a possible 2-1 outcome.

But the players on Malden’s team were not going to let this happen. No one would have guessed that as Samuel Pinto, a sophomore Goalie, explained, they “had basically no time to train,” with roughly three games each week.

Whatever training the players got outside of game time paid off well, as two more goals were scored after Gloucester’s goal. The biggest surprise was that these two goals were scored in the last ten minutes of the game, solidifying Malden’s win. Waly Diouf, a Senior midfielder on the team scored Malden’s third goal of the game. 

And within the next few minutes, Bradley Toussaint, a senior player and midfielder for Malden’s team, scored the final goal, ending the game with a score of 4-1 in Malden’s favor. 

The team shaking hands with Revere, and packing up after the game.

This win was what many of Malden’s players had been looking for. As Coach Smith had explained before, “momentum is a real thing” if the team can get just a few good results in a row, their passion and confidence will carry them through. 

In Coach Smith’s opinion, their first string of losses had nothing to do with a lack of skill. They have “never been lacking in skill,” but more so, they have trouble working as a team. 

Pinto commented on this idea as well, explaining that if they just got “better at working with each other,” they would definitely find the results they are looking for. 

The team is very aware of their struggles of working together and have been working hard to fix this. But with their limited time for training, it is hard to work on team building. Senior midfielder Angel Smilyanov commented that “it takes time,” for all their hard work to show.

The biggest reason that the team has struggled with their teamwork has to do with the fact that the team changed so much this year. Last year many seniors graduated, and a lot of students left the school. Coach Smith explained that though many of their new players know each other, it still will take time for them to learn to play together as a team. 

Though the team changed quite a bit, the underclassmen are certainly feeling welcomed as Tah revealed. The especially enjoys being on the Varsity team because of their Coaches Smith and Frank Cypriano, who “hadn't given up on us even when we were at our lowest.” 

Despite the struggling to work together, they must keep working at it, because, as Domiciano explained, “we have to persevere because we’re nothing if we don’t work as a team.”

(Left) Senior Erick Rodriguez dribbles. (Top Right) Senior Allen Xiao dribbles past two defenders. (Bottom Right) Sophomore Samuel Pinto prepares for a punt after making a save.

The season kicked off quickly after the summer “everyone was really excited,” to start as Coach Smith revealed. They got right to work, as junior midfielder Hamza Mohamed Saleh explained. Saleh went into detail about how they “did many workouts to work on stamina and practiced on our technical side.” But he feels as though they as a team need “the confidence to implement these skills in-game.” 

 Domiciano is also excited to see the team’s hard work and talent be rewarded in-game. “I’d love to see some positive results come from the training we put in every single day,” he said, expressing his excitement.

Making it to the state tournament is a common goal among a lot of the players, one of which being Domiciano, who cannot help but feel that, “we owe to ourselves and our great coach who does everything for us.” He’s sure they can achieve this goal as long as they keep up with the good effort they’ve already shown.

Pinto also plans to make States, as he confessed its been a long-time goal of his. He hopes to play at least one game in the tournament. 

Though the team’s main shared goal is to qualify for a state tournament, the players of the team also have a number of personal goals. Mohamed Saleh explained that he hopes to “be a better version of [himself],” and he hopes to improve by taking things step by step, working at his own pace.

Smilyanov’s personal goal is to improve overall as a player so that he is able to “play well at the varsity level.”

(Left) Fellipe Beneteli Domiciano plays a corner kick. (Top Right) Donny Wright takes a throw-in. (Bottom Right) Ali Zoulgami dribbles the ball, as Wright runs alongside him.

To reach these goals, the players all seem to know exactly what they have to do. Smilyanov is hoping to work on some “individual training, because that’s also important, getting extra touches on the ball.” He elaborated by saying that during practices, and games a player only gets so many touches on the ball.

By working on one’s off time, a player can also work on their own personal development. “I train on off days besides team practices and just work on my weaknesses,” said Mohamed Saleh.

When it comes to training the team, Coach Smith works hard to encourage the team to focus “a lot on our fundamentals, passing, controlling the ball, shooting, etc.” If they work on the basics he is certain the team will do well.

Coach Smith is “very proud of this group,” and can’t wait to see what they do. The team is excited and has high hopes for the rest of the season. They have worked hard, and are ready to take on whatever this season throws their way.

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