Following a 2020 season that was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the boys varsity soccer team has started the 2021 season off strong. Despite multiple injuries, the team has found ways to win games and, at the same time, keep their eyes locked on making the New England Playoffs.
The Wyverns are currently 4-2-4, coming off a big win on Hewett Day against Marianapolis Prep, 1-0. The lone goal came from senior midfielder Henry Pelletier, assisted by senior center back Aidan Dillow.
Due to not having played a full league game in almost two years, the team has struggled to adjust to a pre-pandemic schedule. However, Head Coach Hikmet Aslan has put a strong emphasis on conditioning in efforts to prepare his team for the return to play.
Senior forward Co-captain Brio Aslan echoed the fact that conditioning is a major focus for the team this season. “We do more conditioning now and a lot more speed drills because the team has a lot of great players,” B. Aslan said, “but when it comes to physicality and conditioning, we aren’t there yet.”
Finding the time to condition, however, has been difficult for the team due to their busy schedule. “We don’t have much time between games, as we are playing two games a week,” Coach Aslan said. “If we play Wednesday and Saturday, we have light practices on Tuesday and Friday.”
Although the team has struggled with their conditioning, B. Aslan is still optimistic for the future. “If we work on our conditioning, we will be one of the best teams in New England,” he said.
Even during times when the score wasn’t in their favor, the team has been able to successfully control the tempo of almost all of their games, yet small hiccups have set them back, such as during their game against Kent School, which resulted in an unfortunate 1-0 loss for the Wyverns. “In the first half we did great,” B. Aslan said. “It was a 0-0 score, and we were about to get our goal, but when the second half came around, we lost our energy.”
Despite the fact that several members of the team are battling numerous conditioning issues and injuries, such as Dillow, senior center midfielder Aaron Rotter, and senior right back Carter Smith, the team has rallied together and showed out with a winning record.
According to Coach Aslan, the team has found ways to successfully share the ball with one another and score with ease within their first few games. “We’ve done well connecting our passes and using our midfielders and strikers a lot more,” Coach Aslan said. During practices, Coach Aslan has put a strong emphasis on passing the ball and being selfless. “As a coach, I look to have my players take one or two touches and spread the ball out,” he said.
As a captain and as a player, B. Aslan has proven to be an important asset for the team. He has shown his strong scoring ability throughout his first few games, already having 13 goals under his belt. He hopes to land a total of 40 before the season comes to a close.
The Wyverns still have six games left in the season and have yet to play competitive schools like Avon Old Farms and Hopkins. But the team is hopeful that they will keep improving as they continue to expand their conditioning abilities and their skills on the field, ultimately hoping to make it to the playoffs.