The Washington High School boys soccer team clearly is back. The Rams won the Arizona Soccer Showcase tournament, hosted in late-December. The team is looking for another postseason berth, as is customary under 25-year head coach Adam Roberts.
Roberts and the Rams appeared in the postseason nearly every season since taking over the program in the 1990s. Last year was an exception.
The Rams are a year removed from a tumultuous season. Last year, the team learned after the final game of the regular season a player was ineligible (due to playing for a club team).
So Washington had to forfeit 12 games they won and missed the playoffs.
Their overall record stooped to 4-14-1, despite being the top team in the 4A Black Canyon Conference.
Last year’s events give this year’s team a feeling of “unfinished business,” Roberts said.
“I think this year’s seniors kind of feel like they had an obligation to go back and demonstrate this could be done again. They’re kind of on a mission to get us back to the point where we were at so we can go ahead and finish up what we had started last year.”
Roberts is impressed with the unselfishness of all 22 on his roster.
“I’m asking guys to come in and play some roles that maybe they don’t necessarily play normally,” he said.
One of them is Martin Luala, a standout sophomore midfielder who shifted to a defensive position this year.
“He’s playing left-back right now on defense, and normally he would play center-mid in an attacking position,” Roberts said, “but I already have some attacking midfielders. So, Martin’s ability to play at left-back and his willingness, is testament to the sacrifice these players make when they say, ‘Hey, we want to get the best team on the field.’”
Roberts is also fortunate to plug senior captain Sergio Pacheco into his everyday lineup.
Pacheco, tabbed by his head coach as one of the team’s best players “sets an example in the way he plays and how he practices,” Roberts said.
Though a longtime coach, Roberts said he gets excited about every team he coaches.
“I think every team is special. You have different groups of kids. I have been there, as far as being a coach, where you get a group of kids and you bring them in as freshmen and they start working and trying to build their four-year legacy and progress from there. I think every group is special.
“I think every group of athletes kind of have their own goal to set that year. It’s a different dynamic every year.”