At 13-1-1, the Gonzales Apaches have good reason why they think this boys soccer team can go far this season.
Wins over state-ranked Austin Eastside Memorial, Boerne, Canyon Lake and even a 2-2 draw against state-ranked Taylor proves that the Apaches are one of the top teams in Region IV-4A. With district starting this Friday, head coach Greg Ramirez and the Apaches have their eyes set on not only another district championship, but a trip to McAllen to compete in the Region IV-4A tournament mid-April.
In order to do that, the Apaches cannot be complacent and take this four-team district lightly.
“What we need to do is stay positive with everything that we do,” Ramirez said. “We have big goals ahead of us like we always have. One of those goals is to win district. That being said, they know that’s what their goal is, so they’re keeping themselves motivated, I’m keeping them motivated, I’m telling them what’s at stake, what that prize at the end is and they’re going with that. The biggest goal for us, and this is way far in advance, but the main goal for these guys and what they’ve told me is they want to get back to McAllen. They’re going to do what it takes to get there. That’s their ultimate goal right now.”
So far, the Apaches have had one loss, a pretty bad one in fact, to Burbank.
Up 4-2 with 17 minutes left in the game, the Apaches gave up three goals to lost 5-4.
“I think a team needs to have that, in order to bring you back to earth,” Ramirez said. “Not that I’m saying anything wrong about going undefeated, but you have to know how it feels to have lost one. Mind you, we could have won that game. We slacked off a little bit here at the end, 17 minutes left in the game and we were winning 4-2. We slacked off and Burbank took advantage of it.”
Complacency is what gave the Apaches their first loss of the season. Ramirez hopes that will be their only loss of the season.
So far, Anthony Veliz has been the top leader of the team, according to Ramirez.
“[Veliz] has shown a lot of greatness and ability on shooting, finishing and handling the ball,” he said. “He has shown that he can play on the next level. So he, for me, has stuck out the most.”
Including his talent up top, the Apaches are deep, as shown last Friday in an intra-squad scrimmage where the varsity took on the junior varsity. Ramirez describes his program as a machine “working with all the components right now.”
One of the biggest improvements on the field for the Apaches has been their passing. Though they still enjoy the long ball, the Apaches have improved their short passes to maintain possession and frustrate their opponents.
Corner kicks have also been a positive sign for the 13-win team.
“We’re going to need [good passing] when playoffs come around,” Ramirez explained, “when we play against all types of teams, we’re going to need to be doing that.”
With a team full of talent, a district will be the Apaches first goal to accomplish. But Ramirez won’t be satisfied just with some district success. There are expectations of a deep playoff run, and so long as the players aren’t complacent, there’s no reason why Ramirez shouldn’t be able to book a spot in McAllen.