The Las Positas Hawks men’s soccer team has been a post-season regular in recent years, but the challenge to make it into the playoffs and go far this fall could be the toughest yet.
A Hawks team filled with sophomores enjoyed a regular season of mostly ups — before crashing out of the CCCAA playoffs in the first-round last year. And with all those players having now departed Livermore, head coach Andrew Cumbo is working with a very young side heading into his fourth year in charge.
19 players (out of 25) on this season’s men’s roster are freshmen. And while the Hawks have recruited well, particularly for the soccer program in the past, they will need a lot of the incoming players to quickly buy into the system and hit the ground running this campaign.
Cumbo acknowledges the fact that the team is inexperienced and that it is going to be a work in progress, but claims that the improvements are noticeable day by day.
“The men’s team is very young, but they’ve already had some good showings, particularly against Lassen (4-0 win),” Cumbo said. “They’re making some mistakes, but the consistency will come.”
Consistency is often the hardest thing to achieve when working with new, young players. Luckily for Cumbo, not all of his old guard have left. The roles of returning midfielders like Leonardo Barajas and Arnaud Mantuidi will be key in leading this youthful team forward, especially when the going inevitably gets tough at some point over the course of the season.
Mantuidi, who is one of the captains this term, expressed his excitement about the new team’s potential, and credited a lot of that down to the chemistry that they have managed to build during pre-season.
“I am really excited about the upcoming season,” Mantuidi said. “The team already has great chemistry, and we are looking better and better every day.
I’m happy with the preparation we have put in pre-season. Everyone is on the same page and ready for the new season.”
The other captain’s armband landed at the hands of a freshman, Adolfo Trujillo. An attacking midfielder who will be largely responsible for leading the Hawks’ in the creation department.
Historically, the No.’s 7 and 10 have been associated with being worn by some of the best players on a soccer team. Having accepted the pressure that comes with wearing the No. 7, Trujillo has been oozing confidence in the opening games, putting that down to the belief that the coaching staff and his teammates have shown in him to be a leader.
“I appreciate my coach for having full trust in me, and the team for making me one of the leaders straight away,” Trujillo said. “I am calm and confident in the way I play, and I know that I can help the team win games and make it far into the playoffs.
“With the full support of everyone, they have made it easy to come into this team as a freshman.”
Cumbo has also not shied away from singing his new midfielders praises, pointing out his desire to keep improving despite his obvious talent as a key attribute.
In spite of the good morale around the team on and off the field looking to the future, the Hawks have gotten off to a shaky start this campaign. After cruising to a 4-0 victory over Lassen in the season opener, Cumbo’s men went on to suffer back to back defeats 0-4 defeats.
It is still early days, but Trujillo, like his coach, admitted that the team knows that it can play better, and expressed his confidence in improvement ahead of the upcoming games, and for the rest of the season.
“Me and my teammates feel like we can play so much better, and it starts with practice and our mentality,” Trujillo said. “We are training hard, we are focused, and we know it’s going to be a fun season, with making it far into the playoffs being our main goal.”
All things considered, the season is bound to be challenging for a team with so many new faces coming in. Nothing is going to come easy for Cumbo’s Hawks this fall. But with that being said, the team is not lacking in confidence after a slight false start, and senior captain Mantuidi left it short and sweet when asked about the team’s goals for this term. “The goals for this season are to win the conference, make the playoffs, and try to win it all.”