For the first time in program history, Sandwich will feature a roster of players who committed to playing year-round.
Such dedication is good news for coach Garrett Ryan as the Indians struggled through a 2-18 season last fall.
“We're hoping this dedication will help breed success this season, but certainly moving forward as a program,” Ryan said. “Also for the first time in my soccer coaching career, the student-athletes have come prepared, and by that, we are not having to dedicate as much time to conditioning as we've done in the past. We're still looking for a vocal leader, but there are a few that lead by example. We just hope that will be enough to carry us.”
Defender/midfielder Nate Heimann and forward/midfielder Marc Hernandez return for their senior seasons while sophomore Saed Sedjiu will look to instruct the backline and provide a solid stopper in net to keep Sandwich in most of its games.
Sandwich opens its season Aug. 22 at Somonauk. Its first home game is Aug. 29 against Peotone.
“Looking at our schedule, we can't take any team lightly or for granted, just like most teams know they can't take (us) lightly or for granted anymore,” Ryan said. “We're dedicated to learning and growing as a team, dedicated to improving the program as a whole. That being said, we're realistic that we're not going to go undefeated, but we also know that we're not going winless.”
Having only won twice a season ago, the goals remain modest for Ryan and his squad.
“This season is going to be a journey, not a destination,” he said. “We want our student-athletes to know that they are part of something bigger, and that we're proud of the team and dedication to the school regardless of the outcome and final record.”
The Indians will look for contributions from a good group of incoming players, including Noah Klossing, Veasna Schwingle, Adrian Mendoza and Ethan Weeks. They're part of the reason why the program continues to ascend, albeit slowly.
“We graduated a small class last year, so those returning players who are are one year older, more mature, and have been in this system their entire careers,” Ryan said. “The relationship we have with our middle school coaches has afforded our younger players to acclimate to the 4-4-2 sooner, so we expect our underclassmen to have a positive impact as well.”
It may be overlooked that soccer in Sandwich is still in infancy, having come to fruition in 2008.
“Soccer is growing in our community,” Ryan said. “We've been very fortunate to be on the receiving end of great amounts of support from our families, as well as other varsity sports/coaches, teachers, students and staff in Sandwich, which is invaluable."