After graduating Andover’s all-time leading scorer Dylan Mott ’15, Andover Boys Soccer’s fresh talent has their work cut out for them in improving the team’s offense. Losing eight Seniors, including Mott, from last year’s 8-3-7 team, Andover will rely heavily on young players to fill in the gaps.
Co-Captain Peder Bakken ’16 said, “We lost our entire back line, but we return our entire midfield and a bunch of kids that got a lot of playing time. Offensively, we hope that our strong midfield will help negate the loss of Mott. We also have some younger kids and new kids to the program who we feel can make an impact along the back line. We are also going to be a deep team this year, and the resulting competition for places will bring out the best in all of us.”
Last season’s conclusion was bittersweet, ending with a comeback tie against Phillips Exeter. This draw added to Andover’s tight record, with seven ties, but it did not qualify it for the postseason tournament.
“Our primary goals for the season are to make the playoffs and beat Exeter. After we accomplish those, we plan on making a run in the playoffs,” said Bakken.
Not only will Andover look to measure its success in victories, but also in the level of play and intensity brought to training and matches.
Co-Captain Brandon Girard ’16 said, “This season [we want] to make sure that every time we step onto the field we improve as a unit. Last year, it took us a long time to settle down and find a groove. Everyone on the field this year must contribute to the team somehow in some way. Whether it’s on the field, off the field, in the locker room or at practice, it’s our goal to push each other to our limits, so that in the games we will be ready for anything that comes our way.”
“Offensively, we need to attack as a group and finish our chances when we have them. Defensively, we need to control the tempo of the game, keep our shape and save the shots from outside the 18-yard box,” continued Girard.
Ryan Fischer ’16 is Andover’s returning goalkeeper and will be a key component in the team’s new defense. Fischer’s teammates have confidence that he can make the difference against the teams with strong offensive lineups that Andover will face.
On offense, taking risks with shots from a distance is something that Andover hopes to implement into its game to generate attack quickly. Transitioning from the defense into the midfield will also be key for Andover to break down its opponents. Head Coach Will Orben has been diligently incorporating these necessary tactics into preseason training for Andover to have a winning record in his second year as head coach.
Alex Dziadosz ’16 will also Captain the team with Bakken and Girard. The Senior triad shares the same competitive mindset.
Dziadosz said, “Training is crucial if we want to make it far into the season. Every practice needs to be taken advantage of, every touch on the ball is making us a better, more competitive team. This year we have a talented group of guys who are all hungry to win games. Our sights are set on the playoffs.”
“With all of the young talent coming in and the many returners that are already on the team, I believe we will be a very hard team to beat,” said Girard.