There’s no doubt that this year’s Obama Academy boys’ soccer team has quite the roster. Fans should be prepared for an exciting season, one that is filled with promise. With seniors Abe Kouyate and Ray Cascio controlling the offense and midfielders, and a defense that is eager to do their best in any situation, the team is ready to face long-standing champions Quaker Valley and West Allegheny. But the question that the whole team is asking itself is: how will they do next year, when these strong senior players are off to higher levels of play?
The seniors on the soccer team influence the freshmen more than anyone else on the team, and a few of them had some interesting things to say. Sead Niksic, a freshman defender said, “I believe that the leadership role the seniors play is vital to the smooth and efficient running of the team.” This feeling is shared amongst the team. Many of the players have mentioned that the seniors carry around with them an air of confidence that seems to calm all the other teammates’ nerves. Not only that, they also make the whole experience of playing on a high school team so much more fun. Seniors Rohun Joseph, Jason Andrews, and Seamus Corr always manage to make their teammates smile, no matter how down they may be. The whole team will miss this year’s seniors for both their skill and unique personalities.
On the skills side of things, the varsity team’s offense and midfield will suffer greatly from the loss of Abe and Ray. Rashaan Mason, another freshman stated, “The team will lose key players, ones that are vital to our scoring especially. However, our defense will be stronger, and have one more year of experience.” It is truly a give-and-take situation. The offense will lose these great players, but the defense will get even better. It is inevitable that the soccer team will have to work very hard if they want to have a winning season, and make it into the WPIAL playoffs next year. Coach Pantelis Papazekos, the boys’ head coach, was surprisingly positive. “We’re losing two stars this year,” he said, “Ones that you can’t really replace. But if all the returning players work a little harder, and play a little more technical, we should be fine. Next year we’ll be back a little faster, a little stronger, and a little smarter, ready to play our best.”
Although the team is losing a few players, they are also welcoming a few new players into their ranks. Coach Dave Matthews, the head coach for the middle school boys soccer team spoke especially high of players Gabe Schwartz and Nikolas Schunn, both of whom should be joining the team this coming season of 2015-2016. Gabe and Nikolas are midfielders and both looking at those spots on the varsity team as some of the team’s seniors move on and spots open up. Coach Matthews said, “Both players have a natural field awareness, and have good ball handling.” Hopefully these young players will become leaders on a soccer team in the upcoming years.
Almost everyone agrees that the team will be faced with an exceptionally challenging season next year. But can they meet the high standards set by this year’s team? Ask anyone attending Obama Academy, and you will get an enthusiastic “Yes!”, followed by a loud “Go Eagles!”