Lawn boys’ soccer team closes out ‘rebuilding’ season
Tom Carney, the boys’ soccer coach at Lawn Avenue School, would rather see kids playing on the soccer field than sitting on the sidelines any day.
That is why Carney suggested two years ago that the coed team at the school be split into boys’ and girls’ teams. After 37 boys and girls tried out for the team in 2007, and having to cut 18 players, Carney approached Principal Kathy Almanzor about making separate teams.
The idea was tabled when Carney took a leave of absence from the school last year, but with Carney’s return this year – and coach Sean McAdam willing to take the helm of the girls’ team – the timing was right for the split.
“I could go either way as far as whether we have a coed team or not, but the important part was the demand on the kids’ part with the number of players we had trying out. It just wasn’t feasible to cut 20 kids that could be playing,” Carney said.
This year, a combined 49 middle schoolers tried out for the two teams – a number that would have meant cutting more than 30 players had there been only one coed team.
Carney said that having the coed team in the past never detracted from the team’s competitiveness and at times, having the best talent from both teams was helpful.
“It’s great to win and we want to win, but not when the way we have to build the team to do it means a bunch of kids don’t get to play,” he said.
With only four returning eighth-grade players this year, and 32 boys trying out for the team, Carney had a young team that he could mold for the future.
“This was definitely a rebuilding year,” he said. “I had more sixth graders on the team than I have ever had on the team before.”
The team’s captains were eighth graders Garrett Bucklin and Budd Oldewurtel, who both played on McAdams’ team last year.
“I picked them because of their leadership ability,” Carney said. “They were both always on time, always helped set up, got the team lined up, stretched and ready to start practice.”
The coach waits at least two weeks to pick his captains so he can see who steps into the leadership role and gives the extra effort required of a captain, he said.
The other three eighth-grade players on the team, Ben Rudman, Rex Leonard and Dustin Page, all played strong defense, he said.
“Dustin was really flexible. I moved him around a lot,” Carney said, “and Rex and Ben had very solid foot skills.”
Seventh-grader Connor Ferguson played stopper for the team.
“He has great speed and a really good foot,” Ferguson said.
Despite having solid players at both offense and defense, the Warriors struggled early in the season and came away with only two wins.
Carney hopes to mold all the talent on the team into one workable unit that he says has a lot of potential for next year.
“Our biggest setback this year was that we had a lot of talented individuals who did not play well together,” he said. “It is hard when you have a bunch of kids who have never played together before and they have less than five practices to become a team before their first game.”
One thing the team needs to focus on is its conditioning, Carney said.
“This is one of the least inshape teams coming into the season that I have ever had,” he said. “We had a lot of solid first halves, but then we would die in the second half.”
All was not a loss for the team, however, because Carney saw improvements during the final games that he would like to carry into next year.
“Our two biggest improvements were our ball control and our passing, and those two things got even better during our last four games,” he said.
He said another one of the team’s weaknesses that improved over the course of the season was its ability to fight until the end of the game.
“The first half of the season, when we would get down, we would just give up,” Carney said. “In our last game, we were down 1-0 by the first five minutes into the second half and I thought they were going to give up, but they didn’t.”
The team went on the score three goals and posted a 3-1 win against Monsignor Clarke to close out the season.
“I was very pleased with how well they came together those last few games. I actually had coaches come up to me after a couple of the games and say how much we had improved – and we had,” Carney said.