Demons working hard to improve
As the Washington boys’ soccer team wrapped up its practice on Friday afternoon, the players asked to do the last drill, which focused on getting back on defense, one last time.
“They’ve been working hard out here,” first-year head coach Steven Caulk said. “They’re willing to keep on going.”
The Demons are working hard to improve after finishing last season with an 0-10 record.
“We struggled last year. I don’t think that’s any sort of secret,” said Caulk, who was the team’s assistant coach last season. “So obviously we want to turn that around.”
This season, Caulk and the Demons have focused on getting into great shape.
“We’re making some changes with the program,” Caulk said. “We’re doing a lot more in the way of conditioning. These guys are doing more conditioning than they’ve ever done, certainly on any soccer team. I think they’re going to be one of the best-conditioned teams around. We can just keep on running. That’s kind of my goal.”
The Demons will have to be in shape. There are 18 players out for the team, and several players are out right now due to injuries or ineligibility, leaving Washington shorthanded.
“Right now we’re playing with 12 or 13 people total,” Caulk said. “We need 11 on a side, so that means we only have one or two subs. We’re going into this game on Tuesday with one sub. So we’re trying to play 80 minutes of soccer, an ironman style of soccer, and that’s tough.”
Still, Caulk likes what he’s seen from his team so far this season. The Demons lost their season opener at Columbus 4-1 on March 28. Last season, Washington lost to the Wildcats 14-1 in their first game of the year.
“I’m feeling a lot better right now than I was any time last season, honestly,” Caulk said. “The difference between the margin in terms of score last year versus this year was night and day. It gives me some hope.”
Freshman Heber Godinez scored Washington’s lone goal in that loss to Columbus on March 28. He is one of several newcomers expected to help the Demons this season, along with freshman Christian Mejia, freshman Gustavo Najera, freshman Jarek Brown and junior Luke Brown.
“We’ve got a number of [new guys],” Caulk said. “Hopefully we can build up the program in that way.”
Washington’s leading scorer from last season, Mason Quigley, returns this season. Quigley scored seven goals last season as a sophomore, and he assisted Godinez’s goal in the season opener at Columbus.
Junior Felipe Jimenez, who scored two goals last season, also returns. And the Demons’ goalkeeper, senior Matt Grote, returns after making 92 saves and stopping 74 percent of opponents’ shots last year. Sophomores Justin Craig and Chris Avila will be Washington’s stoppers on defense.
“I think that there is a lot of potential with this team,” Caulk said. “Hopefully I can see a bright future for us.”
With the way his team is working, Caulk believes his team should improve and win some matches this season.
“There’s nowhere to go but up, right? If we can work hard and keep everybody healthy and get some of our academically ineligible players eligible so we have a few subs, maybe we can turn this around and get a few wins this season," Caulk said. "That would be great.”