Midway head soccer coach Allen McLamb welcomed 34 young men to tryouts at the old football field this week. The Raiders hope to improve on last year’s very solid 16-6 record. Midway lost at Dixon in the first round of the playoffs in 2014.
James O’Brien is on board for his second season as the assistant coach. Several former players are also helping out, including Tyler Mayes and Junior Barajas.
The Raiders have 12 players back from last year. Among those returning are an experienced 5 who play in the back on defense. Included are Juan Ortiz, Jackson Carr, E. J. Butler, Nestor Antonio, and Fernando Toledo. Alexis Palacios also returns to the middle on this year’s team.
There are 9 freshmen trying out for the team. Coach McLamb has not ruled out the possibility of a junior varsity team.
McLamb feels that his team’s strength is in the knowledge of the returning players.
“I can put 11 returning players out there that saw quite a bit of playing time last year,” attested the Raider coach. “I think we’ll still be solid.”
As for weaknesses, McLamb points to the departed players. “We still have a couple of gaps to fill even with those returning,” he explained. “Justin Stephenson is not going to be able to play his senior year. He’s gone due to concussions.”
As for the goalkeeper position, McLamb added, “we’ve got Jackson Carr as a goalie, but we’re trying to keep him out on the defensive front. We’re working with a couple of new goalies. If I can get the goalie situation ironed out, we’ll be fine.” Carr has worked effectively in both positions in previous years.
McLamb sees Clinton and Wallace-Rose Hill as the toughest competition, as it has been in past years.
Looking back at last year’s successes, Midway’s coach pointed out that some of their best efforts were in losses. “I thought we outplayed Clinton the second time, but we couldn’t find the back of the goal,” he asserted. “I thought we played as good a game against them as we played anybody.”
McLamb added that one of his proudest moments last year was a comeback win at Union.
“One goal we have for the year,” concluded coach McLamb, “is to improve on last year. Our seniors have talked and their goal is to go at least 3 deep in the playoffs.”
The Raiders will open their season versus Hobbton at Midway on Aug. 17.