Although the Richmond boys soccer team was in a rebuilding year, it ended up winning the Tri County Athletic League and making it to the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.
“I thought they did pretty good,” Coach Rene Siles said. “We knew it was a rebuilding season. It looks like we have a pretty strong team next year.”
That’s an understatement. The relatively young Oilers squad forced offensive powerhouse Monte Vista to fight to the very end last weekend in the NCS quarterfinals. Richmond, which was down two players because of a red card and injury, lost 2-1.
The Oilers ended the season with 15 wins, 7 losses and 3 ties. While that is a solid record, Siles said he was most impressed with how his players were able to adjust to new positions and roles on the team.
Perhaps the best example was Eduardo Bautista, who was moved from left-back to forward and became the offensive MVP for the Tri County Athletic League. Beyond his talent, Siles said, Bautista works hard, was committed all season and has team spirit and thus garnered the respect of his teammates.
Senior Ernesto Blanquel also played out of his usual position and shined as center-back.
“It wasn’t his position, but we needed somebody there who had a good technical understanding of the game and was a team leader,” Siles said. “He became a team leader, mentoring younger players.”
He was so effective that the Oilers had eight shutouts during league play. For the rest of the league games, Richmond allowed three goals.
“For all of those three goals, [Blanquel] didn’t play,” Siles said.
Siles said he could go on for a long time about how well each of his players performed. The back patting must soon end, however, as the Oilers prepare for next season.
“We will take a few weeks off, regroup and come together again,” Siles said. “We want to do it right…it’s a very intense season; 25 games within four months. We don’t have much training time. It’s a lot of work, and we have things to work on.”
One off-season plan is to raise money for the team’s trip to Los Angeles during the Christmas holidays, which costs about $8,000.
“The teams down there are pretty good,” Siles said. “It’s good preparation for North Coast Sections.”