The Roosevelt men’s soccer program rose from the ashes of an uninspiring 2010-11 season to win the KingCo title in 2012 and finish third in state in 2013. Entering the 2014 season, the team once again had high expectations to make a run in the KingCo and state playoffs. Early on, however, that seemed to be out of the question after a series of disappointing losses. After a 5-3 defeat to Redmond on April 9th, the team had an overall record of 4-5 and a conference record of 0-5. With their backs against the wall, the Riders showed their resilience with five consecutive gut check wins, including four wins over KingCo rivals Eastlake, Woodinville, Newport and Garfield.
Last Friday’s 1-0 win over the Bulldogs put the team on the inside track to the playoffs, with a matchup against Ballard looming on Thursday. “Early in the season, we would hang our heads after the other team scored,” said Senior Captain Jacob Merkle. “We just weren’t mentally tough at all. Now were a lot more mentally tough then we were. People are playing different positions than they were in the beginning of the season, which has helped a lot. Our defense has gotten a lot, lot better.”
Senior Shane Gomez, the team’s other captain, attributes the early struggles to changes in personnel from previous seasons. “It has taken us a while to adapt to our new coaches, and their playing and practice philosophy. That was definitely part of it. Our team is also half seniors, and half underclassmen, so there was and still is a huge maturity and experience in playing gap within the team which makes it difficult to build team chemistry,” Gomez explained. “Also a lack of motivation and cockiness from last season. People didn’t realize we have to work for our wins and work hard for each other in order to make it far in the season.” Gomez has high hopes for the remainder of the season after the team’s recent winning streak.
“I expect us to go very far in the playoffs because we have a lot of momentum from previous wins and all of our players have a new attitude that reflects their hatred of losing and being embarrassed,” Gomez said.
With their win last week over Garfield, the team still needs a win Friday to secure a playoff spot. Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield are ranked 4th, 5th and 6th in Kingco, respectively. But with the team’s new-found confidence, they won’t let the high stakes faze them.