Tryouts got underway for the Battle Ground Tigers boys soccer team last week as hopeful athletes tested out their skills in the rain.
Coach Matt Gamblin said he was impressed with what he saw and is looking forward to a strong season.
“It’s been great to see a good turnout,” said Gamblin last week. “They’re doing pretty well and have a great attitude. They all want to be on the field.”
He said 35 to 40 boys tried out last week, which is the average number of players that make up the varsity and junior varsity teams combined.
“I don’t know if there’ll be any cuts, as that’s up to the coaching staff and based off the players as well,” Gamblin added.
Gamblin said a good number of players will return to the team this season. They include defensive players Ravi Karlsen, Colton Sahota and Ethan Oeung, as well as forward Jose Hernandez-Cardoso, and midfielders Owen Baker and Ryan Murray.
Last season, Gamblin said the team saw some success and improved from the start to the finish of the season.
“(The improvements) are what we really want to see as a coaching staff in a program,” Gamblin said. “Most of all, we improved and they had a lot of fun, and also really grew as young men.”
In their previous year, the team did not make it to the playoffs. Instead, they played in a round robin with eight other competing schools in the league.
“They seeded us from there. We played another week with the seeds closest to us and did that again,” Gamblin said.
The team lost its last game to Skyview, 2-0.
Gamblin has already set goals he wants the team to achieve this year.
“First and foremost, the goal of this program is to help develop young men (and) develop their soccer skills, but I really want them to develop both on and off the field,” Gamblin said. “I like to truly focus on that and continue to build the program. I do look at wins and losses, but (I also) look at how we play as a team. We have a different team than we had last year, just like the other programs do, so you can’t always say it’s about wins and losses, especially at the high school level.”
He added that building teamwork, camaraderie, and a family atmosphere is pivotal to the program. Off the field, Gamblin said he tries to help the athletes with their academics to ensure they’re ready for college and assists them in picking the right classes.
“I’m a teacher so I have an understanding of what they need to take, so (I) make sure they’re doing well in those classes,” Gamblin said. “And if they’re not, that’s a conversation between a coach and a player, so we try to get them refocused so they can continue to develop on and off the field.”
After evaluating the players, Gamblin said he saw a “huge amount of potential” during tryouts.
A good amount of underclassmen tried out for the team this season.
“Everybody’s welcoming (the freshmen), as we all want to play well and we want to do better on the field,” he said. “They understand what being a Tiger is all about. The unity piece is a huge part of our teamwork and our program.”
The team’s first game is against Skyview on Monday, March 14. Gamblin said they are one of the tougher teams in the area, but he is hopeful for a good game.
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