Boys soccer succeeds with new drive to work hard

Sylvie Cao, Sports Editor

Boys soccer had a record turnout of 70 boys for their tryouts, and as a result, they have an extremely selective team of 54 talented players.The cuts mostly affected the JV and C-team rosters, as varsity had many returners, but the program has become more competitive overall.
“Liberty’s competitive tryouts are similar to what these boys go through for their club tryouts, so their team culture hasn’t been affected. They’re pretty used to going from rivals in tryouts to teammates in games and practices pretty quickly,” head coach Darren Tremblay said.
“For those who did get cut, I think there are other opportunities out there to play soccer that might not be on the Liberty team because the teams can only get so large,” senior captain Davis Noblat said.
In boys soccer, seniors who do not make varsity get cut from the program. This year, because the turnout was so large, there were a couple seniors who unfortunately did not make a team.
“It’s hard to see guys that have been playing with us for three years get cut. It’s their last year and we all wish we could play with them for one more season. I wish we could take everyone,” junior captain Michael Hatfield said.
While the cuts benefited the quality of soccer being played, Tremblay still strongly dislikes them as well.
“Having to tell these guys that they won’t be playing with us is the worst part of the season,” Tremblay said. “When I eventually stop coaching, the one thing I won’t miss is cutting players.”
As the season began with the selective roster, the varsity team has gotten off to a very strong start with a 3-2 record and four goals scored against them.
“We’re honestly a pretty short team with an average height of five foot eight inches, but we’re playing teams that have an average height of over six feet. That’s why it’s so impressive that one of our five goals against Cedarcrest was a corner kick,” senior Kieran Selby said. “We all hope to see more people from Liberty come to our games. We’re giving it our all and it’d be nice to see other people supporting us.”
The players have been extremely motivated to work hard to show that they deserve their spot on the team.
“Between the teams, there is a bit of flexibility and people can move up or down,” Noblat said. “The cuts encouraged better teamwork because we know that if we don’t do well, we might be moved down to JV and someone else will take our spots.”
But there’s another reason the boys are more determined than ever to get to state: with the loss of a teammate and leader on the team, former senior captain Dillon Sturm, the team wants to succeed in his memory.
“In the first week or so, it was like we were all in a fog. Everyone had a hard time without him, but the guys are coming together. It’s still been hard still, but we’re working through it,” Tremblay said. “Playing together has been a sort of therapy for us and I think it’s helping a lot of the boys cope, especially the ones who were close to him on and off the field.”
Hatfield’s mom made wristbands that say “Strong For Sturm” for all of the boys in remembrance of Dillon.
“It’s a reminder to just think about everything and know that everyone is in a different place right now, and no matter what, we need to support them wherever they are. We’re all playing with him in our hearts right now,” Hatfield said.
“We want to want to get to state to honor him and the player he was,” junior Thomas Nguyen said. “Every game we play, every point we score is for Dillon.”