|Junior Javier Valdez gets in front of a defender during Camp Verde’s scrimmage against Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of Camp Verde girls soccer/ Mary Lue Allen.|
|Efrain Paniagua-Villa eyes the field during the Cowboys’ scrimmage. Photo courtesy of Camp Verde girls soccer/ Mary Lue Allen.|
The boys soccer program at Camp Verde prepared for its season opener by traveling to Payson for a three-team scrimmage.
At the scrimmage, head coach Dave Miller was pleased with what he saw from his team. He said they got rid of any butterflies they may have had, they were progressing as a team and overall, it was "a great first outing."
The scrimmages consisted of a 35 minute half, which Miller said made it hard for the team to find any rhythm. The Cowboys kicked their day off by first scrimmaging Grand Canyon High School. The Phantoms, a younger, inexperienced team, was not ready for what Camp Verde had to offer.
"We played against Grand Canyon in the very beginning, a less experienced team, we handled it really easily, dominated, moved our offense and things like that," Allen said.
After Grand Canyon, the Cowboys faced off against host-school Payson. The Longhorns, despite sitting the first scrimmage, were more ready for the Cowboys than the Phantoms were.
"In the second game we played against Payson, we turned right around," Allen said. "Payson had sat the entire time, no excuses, we did well, it was an even game. They scored once more than we did, we had probably 10 times the shots on goal they had."
While Miller was happy with his team's progress, he did see some aspects of the game that still need work, mainly the boys' possession handling and working on their confidence, which Miller has already addressed with his team as a way to make the players aware of it and work to fix it.
"I think we need to work on our possession a little bit more. We need to respond to pressure with a little more confidence, and I think we'll work towards that, and we talked about it," Miller said. "I think talking about it identifying it, makes a big deal. So once we identify it, they guys have confidence, we're strong, we're experienced, we're doing the things we need to do."
Much like how the girls' soccer coach Pat Allen was trying his players out in new positions so was Miller. Senior Jacob Zeid played right defender his entire high school career, but as he enters his final year as a Cowboy, he has been moved to stopper and played "exceptionally well." Zeid was not the only Cowboy that impressed their head coach with their level of play. Seniors Jose Perez, Andy Woodward and Edgar Aguayo, junior Javier Valdez all stood out in the two scrimmages.
"On our team, probably Jacob Zeid. He's playing a new position this year, he's playing our stopper this year, he played right defense for his first three years and (now) he's playing stopper," Miller said. "He played exceptionally well, and I would say, probably our center mid, Javier Valdez, played really well, and up on the top, Jose Perez is playing well, but he's struggling with a cold, and then Edgar played well, those guys were playing strong up the middle. Andy was solid in goal, and that's a huge thing for us. He got ... one of them bounced in on him, but its one of those things that happens, it's a scrimmage. Its not paramount we win the scrimmage."
With Miller happy about the progress of his team, he keeps expectations in reality knowing that they may not win every game this season, but if they focus on doing what they have been doing and practicing hard, they can reach the goal of going to the state tournament.
"It's going to be tough to win every game, and its going to be tough to ... the thing is, we want to get better every day at practice, get better after every game, and that's what we're going to try to do," Miller said.
Miller and his Cowboys take the next step today, Sept. 4, when they host Phoenix Christian Day High School at home, at 6 p.m.
"I take everything in perspective, and I think its just, I think we're rounding into a good team and our big test will be Wednesday against Phoenix Country Day," Miller said. "Quality program, quality team, quality players, we'll get a chance to see how we're progressing. It's a journey and we'll be better in the middle of September than we are on the first, better in October than we are in September and hopefully at our best in November, that's when we want to be our best."