The return of soccer season
Jared Lang | Highlands TodayGrab your winter coat and some change for hot chocolate and come experience one of Sebring's most exciting events: high school soccer.
Published: November 7, 2012
Published: November 7, 2012
With SHS football season nearing its end and baseball season still a few months away, many local sports fans know that basketball is about to start. What they don't know, however, is that what I consider the most entertaining high school sport, is in season as well.
Soccer often gets a bad rap because it is more popular internationally than domestically and people often don't like what they aren't familiar with. High school soccer, however, has all the attributes of any great American sport: remarkably talented players, outmatched but very capable underdogs, and physicality that is unmatched in arguably any other high school sport.
As a second year SHS varsity soccer player, I've experienced all of the aforementioned aspects of the sport. The excitement of the upcoming season has all but overcome me and I know more sports fans would be ripe with anticipation too if they had ever been to one of these games.
Soccer is a unique sport. In order to succeed, teams must have an effective dynamic of conditioning, preparation and skill. These all share equal importance and a team with all three is hard to beat.
Soccer players run around five miles in each 80-minute game and about one-third of that is a sprint. To get ready for this taxing gameplay, teams play in the heat of the summer, condition for weeks before tryouts, and even run in the mornings during the season.
The preparation before a soccer game consists of two main parts: creating a game plan and practicing situations. After a team gets together and the coach evaluates his assets, he then decides what formation will serve the team best. Certain formations accentuate strengths and weaknesses on both offense and defense.
A lot of practice time is then spent perfecting this formation and anticipating possible game situations. These situations include, but aren't limited to, free kicks, injuries, playing a man down, corner kicks, throw-ins and penalty kicks. Most soccer coaches believe the philosophy that their job is done in practice. At games, coaches make substitutions and tough decisions but trust the training of their players to make their own adjustments during play.
While the first two aspects are very important, soccer is also a sport that can be taken over by talented players. The footwork, vision and physical domination of one player can render the other team useless. A well-conditioned, well-prepared team with several star players isn't likely to be beat.
One often overlooked feature of high school soccer is the speed and intensity of the game. The heads in the stands move almost as quickly as the ball on the field and my dad often tells me he gets tired just watching. The physical nature of the game also leads to many scuffles and much animosity between teams. Soccer is, however, a full contact sport and the intensity of the players is evident as they fight for each win.
Sebring High School's Boys Varsity Soccer team features an interesting juxtaposition of youth and experience this year. Our team only has five seniors but all of them were starters last year. We probably have more juniors than any team we'll face but seven of them played last year as sophomores on our district runner-up team.
The games are often terribly cold but with support from the community Sebring Soccer definitely has a chance to get hot and bring home a district championship!