O’Hara boys soccer pieces together enough players to press on
After graduating over half of their roster from a year ago and having only about 120 male students enrolled, the team was struggling to get students who were interested in playing.
It was a problem that not only nearly cost the season, but it nearly broke the hearts of the players already on the team, and their head coach Joe Wilkie.
Wilkie said that it was tough during the first few days of practice because he knew that if something didn’t happen soon, the season could be over before it even began.
“We lost seven players to graduation,” he said. “When we only had nine or 10 kids show up for the first couple of practices, we knew we had a serious problem.”
Wilkie said that he wanted to get the roster big enough to where the team could have a few substitutions.
“I had it set at, at least 13,” he said. “If I could get enough players to where I didn’t have all the kids playing full games every time out, then I figured we would be able to make everything work.”
After some recruiting by he and his players, O’Hara managed to get the team to 14 players and get on the pitch for the start of the 2012 season.
Top players like Colin Tate, Chris Veress, and Zach Morris, who were leaders and contributors on the field, took on the same responsibilities off of it.
Wilkie said that it meant a lot to see his players make the effort like they did.
“My seniors and captains stepped up,” said Wilkie. “I was impressed by the way that they got together.”
Now that the season is safe and games are underway, it’s back to the field for Wilkie and the Hawks, which means high expectations for a team that will be defensively sound.
“I expect to go far and deep into the playoffs this year,” Wilkie said. “We have a leaders on this team who will make everyone accountable. I expect us to go far with solid defense. If they can’t score, they can’t win.”