Turning over a new leaf

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(Michael Hall)

Despite finishing last season 3-12-4, and taking a downfall in their 2010 home opener, Head coach Daniel Link feels confident that this semester’s men’s soccer team is headed in a new direction.

After statistically one of the worst seasons in school history in the 2009 season, it would naturally be hard to take any improvement claim seriously. The Trojans finished last season with only three wins, and finished in fourth place in the Coast Conference South division for the fourth consecutive year, with a win percentage of 0.263. Although the Trojans have not had a winning season since 2006, the 2009 season proved to be the worst of every losing season in the four year span, considering the Trojans suffered six games without a single goal, and six losses by three or more goals (both led the division).

            In the Trojan’s home opener against Foothill College on 8/21, they took a 3-1 loss, but coach Link looked past the loss and talked after the game about the difference in this year’s team.

“The guys just feel a lot better, the attitude of the team is way better this year,” said Link.

From a statistic standpoint, the Trojans played up to expectations, allowing only one goal in the first half despite only having four offensive possessions past mid-field, with an solid performance by freshman goalie Kevin Artiga, a highly athletic defender. Besides blocking shots, the Trojans showed they could play a physical offense and knock away passes.

            “Every year, my scheme changes, and they are built around my team; this year’s is more defense oriented,” said Link.

            The defense impressed, but struggles continued offensively throughout the entire first half, but a highlighted offensive improvement was the time of possession, which they lacked a lot of last season. After ending the first half trailing 1-0, the Trojans gave up another goal in the openings minutes of the second half, and sophomore Trojan Gino Graziani answered back with a goal of his own just two minutes prior to being scored on, in attempt to bring the offensive game to life. Unfortunately, the scoring ended there as Foothill College grinded out the remaining 29 minutes of the game.

            Along with struggling to produce points, the Trojans were also cursed with injuries to start the 2010 season, and academic ineligibility. Out of 25 players on the roster, Link only had 17 active, the lowest in a long time. Injuries play a big role in player fatigue, and substitutions are very limited. Knowing Link’s players in the last five years have a 95% graduation rate, academic ineligibility should not be a big concern throughout the season.

            “It’s the same concept, we’re going to have to work hard, and continue good team work so we can head in the right direction,” said Link.

            After all, it’s still early in the season, and a playoff appearance isn’t quite a conversation yet; but according to the improvement already shown, don’t be surprised if the Trojans pull off not only a way better win percentage, but also some shocking upsets.