Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – Bouncing back from a winless season isn’t the easiest thing to do.
But second-year head coach Gabe Otero believes that the Lee Williams boys soccer team has what it takes to turn things around.
“There were many cases where we would lose a game 2-1, 1-0 or 3-2, and it was literally a mistake we would make in the last two minutes,” Otero said of last season. “Not only has the team gotten bigger, faster, stronger, but I believe our overall IQ is going to be a lot higher.”
The Volunteers finished 0-13 overall and 0-6 last year, including two losses to Kingman High. The difference this season is the fact Lee Williams returns eight varsity players, highlighted by four seniors.
“The core group that came back are all part of my starting squad,” Otero said. “We have a strong core group that have a year of playing under me so they know my system and that makes us one year stronger.”
Only time will tell if that understanding results in a successful campaign. But it does help that Lee Williams has a lot of depth that allows for fresh legs in critical games.
“I definitely have plenty of players,” Otero said. “My varsity squad isn’t actually as big as I would like it to be, but at the same time I have plenty of kids I can move up and choose from.”
While he said all of the seniors would be instrumental, Otero did pinpoint Aiden Cordes and Aaron Martinez as two standouts.
Cordes was a role player last season, helping out the Vols as a forward and midfielder, but his natural ability is defense.
“Aiden wants to play at the next level, so he’ll be our main defensive back all year,” Otero said. “He is going to be a huge part of our success this year.”
Martinez is expected to play left wing for Lee Williams, where he will showcase his offensive skills.
“Aaron is a state-level track runner,” Otero said. “If we can get him to where his touches are on point, there’s hardly anyone who can keep up with his speed.”
The duo gets their first opportunity to live up to Otero’s words Tuesday as the Vols travel to rival Kingman High for a 6 p.m. contest.