Simply put, the Foothill boys soccer team grew tired of losing. And they’ve used that as their bedrock of motivation for the 2019 season.
A year after a 6-15-2 campaign, the Trojans have been a surprise story this winter. The team held a 14-0-4 mark after beating Highland 3-0 on Friday and found itself in rarified air this week — slotted No. 1 atop the MaxPreps.com Central Section Division IV rankings.
“We struggled last year for sure,” said Trojans head coach Ty Rose. “But I think (the players) actually took that personally.”
The Trojans were exceedingly young in 2018, Rose said. And while they were competitive in some games, they didn’t have much success to show for it in the win column.
They also had plenty of talent, however — the team’s core group of players won a Southeast Yosemite League junior varsity title in 2016-17 — and went into the offseason with a renewed focus. Rose said players were committed in the weight room and in their fitness regimens.
“They stuck with it, they saw they could be something and they were building something,” said Rose, who’s in his fifth year with the program. “Everything I asked them to do, they did. There wasn’t any complaining.”
Said senior Juan Ojeda: “This year we changed it up. We can’t take no more losses. Enough is enough.”
The simple fact is that the Trojans haven’t lost yet this season. They’re still a young team — nine juniors make up the roster, a group that includes key pieces such as Jose Medina (defender), Andres Meza (midfielder) and Jorgi Cruz (midfielder).
Ojeda, a senior, leads the team with 12 goals and 12 assists.
“We don’t take no days off,” Ojeda said. “Over break, we were here Monday through Friday. Even on New Years and New Years Eve, we were out here practicing in the morning, putting in the work.”
Through it all, Foothill looks to play a fast, aggressive, competitive style. The Trojans are a hungry team, with all 11 players taking the field with the same mindset. Typically, with that approach, a team can be tough to beat.
“Get the first shot, the first tackle, the first header and the first goal,” Rose said. “We want to be the aggressors. And it’s worked for us.”
Medina said one asset the Trojans have is they’re all homegrown players with virtually no transfers on the roster. They’ve risen the high school ranks together, as a collective unit.
“We’ve all developed together. We played last year, and it’s the same team pretty much,” he said. “We just lost a couple seniors. And we added on freshmen.”
The Trojans will look to continue building in Southeast Yosemite League play. Defending Central Section Division IV champion Mira Monte resides in the SEYL, along with an established South program.
Rose also said teams such as Highland, East and North should not be taken for granted. In other words, it’s a challenging league.
Foothill has SEYL wins thus far over South, North and Highland.
While the Trojans been respectable in recent years — they’ve qualified for the Central Section playoffs four of the five years Rose has been in charge of the program — the team has yet to win a postseason game during that span. They hope 2019 is the year that streak comes to an end.
“We have a slogan — redemption year,” Medina said. “And we’re doing it.”