Varsity Boys Soccer
Coach Carl Turner says the standout moment from the Varsity Boys Soccer season wasn’t a come-from-behind win or the multiple games they won by seven or more goals. It was an early loss in a season that saw them earn a 13-2 record and win the second division of the PSAA (Private School Athletic League).
After starting the season with five wins and outscoring opponents 40-11 over that stretch, the team fell 1-2 to Trevor Day School in their sixth match. “The standout moments aren’t always a win. After this tough match, the boys hated losing, and they promised themselves they would work as hard as they could to avoid losing again.” After that tough loss the team regrouped, refocused and changed their whole approach. “We focused on possession, breaking down our opponents’ defenses and really played as a team. It was beautiful to watch!” said Coach Turner.
Following the loss, the team won seven of their remaining eight matches outscoring opponents 50-12. The only other blemish on their record was a close match against Avenues that they lost 3-2. Following a convincing win against Staten Island Academy in the semi-finals of the PSAA playoffs, the team got a shot at redemption by facing Avenues in the championship final. The game was hard-fought and resulted in a 3-1 victory and GCS’ first PSAA division two soccer championship.
This was Turner’s third season as head coach. The team went from 2-7 in the first season to 10-4-1 in the second season, and, finally, to 13-2 and a championship in the third. “My expectations for this season were high and they boys exceeded them all. It was a awesome season to watch and be a part of.”
“One of the main ingredients to our success this season was the fact that the guys bought into the idea of possession-based soccer. We had the right players. We just needed everyone to be on the same page and execute our game plan,” Coach Turner said. “In everything they did, they worked hard and deserved all their success this season.”
For his hat-trick and five total goals in the playoffs, senior Manny Balbontin was named Playoff MVP. For outstanding performances during the regular season, junior Archie Brydon (midfield), junior Tommaso Garibaldi (midfield), and Manny Balbontin (forward) were named All PSSA. Sophomore Jack Pickard (goalkeeper) was named All PSAA Honorable Mention.
Coach Turner and Assistant Coach Mike Hsueh place much of the team’s improvement on the players growing and maturing both on the field and off. As the team had more upperclassmen and seniors for the first time, their expectations were higher than ever. The coaching duo emphasized the important role that trust has on a team.
“Knowing the guy next to you has your back no matter what makes a big difference on the field. This year they became brothers on the field and forged life-long friendships that helped our team chemistry. Their bond pushed us into becoming an unstoppable force,” said Coach Turner.
Both coaches said that winning a championship was great, but that it is not all about winning and losing. “Every player grew up a lot during the season. We worked hard at becoming mentally strong and playing smart, and the boys did that all season. They made us really proud.”