Boys’ varsity soccer improves defense in quest for title

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By Danielle Flores

Originally published on September 9, 2014

Senior co-captain and midfielder Freddy Marin gets past a University High School defender in the Cardinals’ 1–1 draw with the Red Devils on Aug. 27. Photo by Karina Huft

Defense wins championships. That is the rallying cry for the varsity boys’ soccer team this season.

Last year, the Cardinals made it to the Academic Athletic Association semifinals against San Francisco International but lost 3–2. The team was leading 2–0 when their defense came out flat in the last 14 minutes.

Lowell had executed a 3–4–3 formation where there were only 3 defenders covering the entire field. “Last season we were such an offensively-minded team,” head coach Juan Lopez said. “We were vulnerable on the defensive side.”

This season the Cardinals are opening up the field to a 4–2–3–1 formation, with four defenders. “We’re playing more structured and defending as a unit where everyone knows their responsibility,” Lopez said.

Lopez is focusing his defensive and offensive game plan with three center midfielders instead of two, which he played last season.

“With three center midfielders, we will be able to control the center, which is where the majority of soccer is played.”

“With three center midfielders, we will be able to control the center, which is where the majority of soccer is played,” Lopez said.

During pre-season, senior co-captain Freddy Marin, seniors Even Berhe and Tim Eilers, as well as sophomore Nick Kaliss rotated in the three center midfielder positions. Lopez will continue observing the four players for their best fit with the new 4–2–3–1 structure.

Senior midfielder Even Berhe (5) chases the ball in the Cardinals’ 1–1 draw with the Red Devils on Aug. 27. Photo by Karina Huft

The team played with their new formation during their pre-season game against University High School on Aug. 26. But the Cardinals struggled in a 1–1 draw. “I think we were having trouble finding the connection from the defensive four to the striker,” senior attacking midfielder Tim Eilers said.

Despite some faults in the tie against University, the new tactic was a success in the Cardinal’s 4–0 victory over International High School on Aug. 27. “We have definitely refined our playing style and especially in the game against International where we linked up well,” Eilers said.

Every school is competition for the Cardinals this year, with San Francisco International at the helm, according to Lopez. “SFI is a small school, and no one expected them to come out as last year’s champions,” Lopez said. “Our success this year will revolve around everyone carrying their weight. Everyone’s got to be on the same page, and everyone needs to know what to do and ultimately, that will make us a better team.”

The Cardinal’s first league game will be on Tuesday, Sept. 9 against Galileo at 3:45 pm at Galileo.

Senior midfielder Tim Eilers challanges a Red Devil in the air in the Cardinals’ 1–1 draw with University High School on Aug. 27. Photo by Karina Huft