Nothing says “young team,” like a squad that graduated more than a dozen players last year. But that’s what’s facing the Father Gabriel Richard soccer team as it enters the 2018 campaign.
Don’t think for a minute, however, that FGR Coach Carlos Calderon is throwing in the towel with his youthful unit. Far from it.
“We graduated 14 seniors and, yes, we will be young,” said Calderon, entering his fourth season at the Fighting Irish helm. “But, I still feel we will be a successful team.”
The Irish are coming off a 15-8-2 season in 2017, and they won their first-ever CHSL championship. While many from that team have departed, Calderon feels that much was learned from that title run.
He stresses the importance building upon past success, and says that student-athletes don’t soon forget how good it feels to enjoy the fruits of victory.
“Team culture is a strength within the program,” Calderon said. “The team has been very successful the past couple of years and I think that it has trickled down to the younger kids.”
A couple of the Irish who have keen memories of the 2017 CHSL title are Gabe Garbarz and Juan Sancho. Both are senior midfielders and both will be looked to this year to play a leading role if FGR is to come close to repeating last year’s success.
When asked to name a couple of newcomers who could play a key part for the Irish, Calderon, simply said, “TBD.” Understandably, he was answering the question in the first week of August, and his team’s opening game isn’t until 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at home against Milan.
So, as you can see, it is still TBD, to be determined, what kind of team the Irish will put together this year. Much will depend on a couple of seasoned veterans, but a flock of youngsters will also play an important role.
Regardless of experience level, however, Calderon is looking for the same brand of player who exhibits a dedication and style that the fourth-year coach hopes to make a constant at Father Gabriel Richard.
“I think that we have to hone in on our fundamental skills, both technically and tactically,” he said. “We have to focus on our season goals and how we are going to accomplish them.”
Calderon had one last thing he wanted to say, and this might be one of the most important parts of playing not only soccer, but any school sport:
“We have to focus on teamwork and just an overall love for the game,” he said.