Chouaib Saidi also contributed to this article.
Malden finished the season with a record of 3-13-2, and a win percentage of 16%, which is the worst result Malden has had in over a decade.
The season was stocked with issues and hardships for the players and coaching staff to handle from day one. "We had five returning starters move out of the district this year, and that was unexpected because we really expected those players to carry our team. We had some unfortunate injuries early on that we were just never able to overcome. We had two starters go down with season-ending injuries in the first week of the season, and that put us down seven starters out of a possible 11 within the first week of the season," stated Head Coach Jeremiah Smith.
Malden's new look right before the season caused chemistry issues to sprout. "Coming into the season, we didn't have a whole lot of players who had played together. The team was trying to come together during the season, and that's really hard to do. I think back to some of the years where we've had a lot of success, and we had a lot of players that have been playing together for years and years and years. That chemistry has developed over time, where this year we started playing together as a team at the end of August and we're into the middle of our season by September," stated Smith.
"I think injuries, some unlucky games, and a lack of teamwork on the field [was why we kept losing]. I tried to make sure everyone got along together because I believed that if we were good off the field we’d be better on the field. Whenever there were conflicts I would always make sure that we resolved them and continued our teamwork on and off the field," mentioned senior captain Ali Zoulgami.
"The team needs to work on teamwork, communication, and focus. Some people got up too much and then didn't come back, or they're not putting enough effort which caused more people to have to overwork themselves for no reason," explained senior captain Camilus Aristil. "Some people actually got mad at each other, but I feel chemistry-wise, we could have been better. I feel like if first touches were off or minor details were off, that caused us to lose possession and mess up badly," continued Artistil.
Malden's performances on defense were less than ideal, with 86 goals conceded this season. Many can agree that the defense needed improvement. "The team has to work on everything. We have to work on discipline, taking the infield, and switching sides more often. Most of the time we lose possession on one side because we don't pass to the other side, then we get counterattacked. We have to work as a team and as individuals to improve our game," stated Sophomore Sandesh Ghimire.
"I hope they focus more on defending, we conceded a lot of goals this season. We lost possession a lot and the other team kept coming at us. We started getting tired and stuff, and nobody was shooting. Then another thing was rebounds, if there was a rebound most of the time we weren't getting to them," explained Aristil.
Another problem was the mentality of most of the squad. Players gave up easily which led to more mistakes when things went wrong. "We would actually have these spurts in games where we would be the absolute best team on the field, and it was great to see, but I think one of the problems that we just couldn't overcome was our resiliency. I talk to the guys a lot about how they react when something goes wrong and being resilient and able to fight through those problems, those mistakes, and we just didn't have it this year. We would get into a snowball effect where one mistake would happen, one thing wouldn’t go our way, and that would snowball into other mistakes," stated Smith.
Although Malden didn't always get the results they hoped to get, there were still positives to take from the season. "I was really proud on those occasions when we played like a team and we would win and work hard and work together to win. I was also really proud when I saw the team defending each other and not attacking each other," stated Zoulgami.
"I thought our goalies really kept us in the game, so that was a bright spot. I wasn't sure of how we were going be at that position. We always have strong midfield play and I think that continued again this year." said Smith.
The coaches and players know they have to improve this offseason to gain a better outcome next season. "Just being more competitive in our league. Unfortunately, we're very much limited on what we're able to do as a team out of season, and that's from the state, so what I need to do is I need to rely on some of those veteran players, those juniors that are next year going to be seniors and, and even some of the sophomores that are gonna be juniors. Those veteran players need to step up and be a leader, whether they're named a captain or not, really organize some off-season practices, some off-season training, in the spring and in the summer." stated Smith.
"I still plan on using my Joy block to do some film and some film study for the soccer team and watch some of our game films and try to analyze some ways that we can get better," stated Smith.
Although the season has to come to an end, coaches and captains still have optimistic words for the squad. "I'm proud of the effort that we put in, every day of practice. Even when the final result didn't show that we were putting in an effort, there was no lack of effort on the field at any point during the year. I was definitely proud of that," stated Smith.