By Angela Park, News Editor
In the weeks preceding Oct. 21, a selective group of students battled through schedule conflicts to form an off-season soccer team, placing fifth amongst unfamiliar teams, in the Asian Christian Schools Conference (ACSC) held at YISS.
Due to the team being formed off-season, “it was almost like a whole new team, with missing last year’s seniors,” acknowledged defending sweeper, Justin Lee.
Developing teamwork proved to be challenging with the induction of many new players. “Our strengths were individual skill and play, but we didn’t have much coordination among players,” commented Paul Lee.
Defender Kimin Lee agreed, “We needed to work on passing by making quicker decisions. Working on communication will help us improve on those skills.”
Season co-captain explained, “Since we didn’t have much practice time, our teamwork wasn’t up to our full potential.”
None of the athletes had played together before, except the varsity members; hence understandably, younger players were anxious. New freshman goalie Matthew Kim admitted he felt intimidated because “compared to other goalies, I’m really small. I had to play against seniors and juniors.”
To further the struggle the team had to combat the fact they had lost a good portion of their team due to matriculation. These changes called for adjustment to new skill levels and acceptance of the reality that some varsity players were not going to participate during the off-season. “We didn’t have many seniors, only three. But I tried to stay positive. If the seniors were to act immature, I knew we wouldn’t do as well. So though I was frustrated I tried not to express that,” said season captain Chanmin Sung.
Once they had come to grip with the new lineup they had to adapt to schedule conflicts. Matthew said he realized there were only “a few times to play with each other so it was first hard,” but they got into the “groove of it”, finishing strong in the end.
“We did well but we could’ve done much better if the tournament was in our soccer season,” said Paul. Excluding YISS, a school in the KAIAC league, soccer is a fall sport for the schools in the ACSC league. Justin added, “We were going against teams that were in the end of their soccer season and who were in shape, while we weren’t.”
Initially, center-mid co-captain Kevin Lee thought he would have to give up playing in the tournament since earlier on, he had suffered an injury. Luck had it that his recovery was speedy, so he was able to prioritize the team before anything. It was this type of sacrifice that continued throughout the off-season.
“The teams were better in ACSC than the teams in KAIAC. That was a really good experience for us which could help us get first place for our season,” said Chanmin, who also expressed his desires to “break that curse” which prevented GSIS from ever winning a KAIAC tournament even though they have won the KAIAC conference several times. “In terms of skill, we have it. We just need to get in shape.”
Teammates also reflected positively about this learning experience. “It [the tournament] really gave us understanding of where we are right now. We just need to work hard for the upcoming season,” said center-back Jason Lee.
Matthew foresaw the upcoming spring season, commenting, “We already broke the ice with each other so we’re going to be comfortable playing with each other.”
In terms of preparation, Justin said, “We have to encourage each other to become better. Since there are not enough players right now, we are trying to recruit new ones.” This is their new battle as they approach the spring season.