With a strong core of ten Seniors and 13 returners, Andover Boys Soccer looks to improve upon its 2016 season record of 10-4-4 and secure a spot in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (Nepsac) tournament. With Coach Will Orben on sabbatical, Coach Edwin Escobar has stepped up to lead the team this season along with Co-Captains Will Raphael ’18 and Morgan Cutts ’18.
Cutts said, “Things were a little bit uncertain coming into the season with a new coach, but I think Coach Escobar, Will, and I all got onto the same page pretty early in terms of where we wanted the team to be this season.”
Raphael is also confident in the team’s outlook this year and believes it will succeed under Coach Escobar’s leadership.
“I don’t think that the change in coaches has impacted the team that greatly, actually, because Coach Escobar was around last year, all the guys love him, and he actually did most of the work with the defense last year. A lot of the guys are already used to Coach Escobar, and I don’t think it’s really changed too much with the offense either. He’s really easy to work with, really energetic, keeps the team engaged, so there are no issues there,” said Raphael.
With Coach Escobar’s smooth transition to his new role and a talented group of new players, the team worked hard during preseason to create a strong foundation.
Raphael said, “I think the most important thing during preseason and team prep was just to make sure that everyone started to build chemistry with each other, learn how to play with each other, and [since] there are 11 guys on the field, it’s important that everyone’s on the same page. So whether that be working together on the field or just getting to know each other off the field, that’s the most important thing about preseason. And then all of the skills and tactics will come later once we’re all ready.”
The team emphasized its conditioning and communication on the field during preseason, and looks to improve in these areas before its first game.
Returner Rolando Rabines ’19 said, “We’ve been practicing pretty hard. One of our weaknesses is our conditioning, so we’re really hoping to improve that before the start of the season.”
Despite its winning record last season, the team failed to make it past quarter finals in the Nepsac tournament. While the team has not won the championship title since 1994, Raphael is hopeful that Andover will find greater success during the 2017 season.
“The team’s goals would definitely be to make it further than the quarterfinals, beat [Northfield Mount Hermon] after having trouble with them last year, [and] put some balls in the back of the net. We had some trouble scoring last year, so hopefully this year that’ll be different,” said Raphael.
Andover’s success will be rooted in its ability to come together and continue working hard everyday, according to Cutts.
“I think in my four years at Andover, in terms of raw talent, this is probably the most talented team we have. I think that it will just be about getting on the same page as quickly as possible, and if we do that, I’m sure we’ll have a great season,” said Cutts.
Andover will square off against Brooks in its first regular season game this Saturday at home.