New coach has high hopes for Santa Fe Boys’ Soccer

Santa Fe_RaidersBy John Miceli
Contributing Writer
Twitter – @JohnMiceli13

After a strong regular season last year with only two losses to blemish their record (19-2-2), the Santa Fe High School varsity boys’ soccer team, led by coach Pedro Rodrigues and assistant coach Paul Richardson, bowed out in the regional semifinals of the Class 2A Boys Soccer Championship to Crescent City High School.

“We beat Crescent twice during the regular season, so we knew we had a strong team going into it,” said Richardson, who took over as head coach this year for Rodrigues. “After that loss we realized we have to stay consistent and stay focused.”

Nine seniors have graduated since that playoff loss. Richardson, who took over the head coaching position at the start of this season, believes expectations are still high with the new squad.

“We still have a lot of returning players,” he said. They understand the mentality and seriousness we need, which can carry over to the youngsters. Then, there is a chemistry that forms, and that makes a strong team.”

Santa Fe opened the new season Nov. 13 against what Richardson described as their “toughest opponent,” Buchholz High School. After going up two goals in the match, Santa Fe mistakes allowed the Bobcats to come back and finish the game as a 2-2 draw.

“You have to know that every 50-50 ball, [Buchholz] are going to try to make it their’s,” said Richardson. “It’s a contact sport, you have to expect that. Every time you have the ball, you have to expect to be pushed and shoved, and you have to pick up the intensity.”

And pick it up they did. The team responded with an 8-0 mercy of their next opponent, St. Francis Catholic Academy. Two games into the new season, Richardson has noticed one of his team’s biggest strengths, their chemistry and the ability to form plays.

“High school soccer can be like ping pong, with the ball passed from defense to attack,” he noted. “With us, there is a lot more behind it.”

Santa Fe’s next game is Nov. 26 at home against Fort White High at 6 p.m, who has yet to win a game in this very young season.

One player to watch for the Raiders is senior forward Dillon Giambrone, who Richardson says came back this year a more complete player and has scored multiple times already this season. Richardson knows Giambrone, and the rest of his team, can be great this year and improve upon last season.

“Even though we are a smaller school, I know we have so much potential if properly coached and trained,” he said. “We are capable of magnificent things, and that is something I love saying.”