SAMOHI — If the boys soccer team is going to repeat as state champs, the ride will be wild.
Having finished third in the Ocean League, the defending champs will have to win a play-in wild card game against Covina’s Gladstone High School (11-11-1 overall, 6-6 in Montview League play) today at John Adams Middle School to advance to the California Interscholastic Federation’s Division IV Championships.
“For some reason, they gave us a wild card game,” Head Coach Serafin Rodriguez said. “We finished third in league, but this is very weird.
“We never got the head’s up from CIF that this was going to happen.”
He said that usually 32 teams qualify in each division, three from each league, but this year for some reason, the CIF added a wild card round to expand the number of teams making the playoffs.
Even with the wild card, Rodriguez is still confident about his squad’s chances. While a number of starters from last season’s championship run graduated, he thinks this year’s team is talented enough to make some noise in the postseason. The team finished this season 12-6-4 overall and 6-4-1 in league play.
Rodriguez said that he doesn’t know much about Gladstone, but is confident that his team will rise to the occasion.
“It should be a battle,” he said. “I like our chances.”
Without much knowledge of the squad his team is facing, Rodriguez said that he just wants his guys to play their regular style and “hope for the best.”
Hoping not to sound overly confident, he feels that his team “won’t have any trouble with [Gladstone].”
On a team that has had a few chemistry problems this season, Rodriguez hopes those issues are a thing of the past once his team takes the pitch.
“I feel confident gong into the playoffs,” he said. “The issue is going to be what team shows up for me. We tend to be inconsistent at times and we have been making mental mistakes near the end of games.”
Since the regular season ended last week, Rodriguez has been working his team hard during practice. He’s been talking with them about the different scenarios they may face during the playoffs and hoping it gets through to them.
He spent time this week showing the team video of many of the mistakes it made during the season and giving his players advice on how to eliminate those shortcomings.
While he’s done his best to prepare them for what lies ahead, he is a bit concerned that last season’s success may being going to the heads of his players.
“The players feel confident, sometimes a little too confident,” he said. “They don’t mind playing away, they don’t mind playing anybody.”