2-sport athletes stay undefeated through 8 games
By Leah Vann
Alan Sandler, head coach of the Yavneh Academy varsity boys soccer team, would have been happy with a .500-win season and a playoff berth. One year removed from its historic state semifinal run, the team had lost nine of its starters to graduation. But, seven games into a 10-game district schedule, the Bulldogs are undefeated.
“We don’t have the quality that we had last year,” Sandler said. “This team has exceeded all my expectations.”
The Bulldogs don’t play an easy schedule, with a district including Dallas International, a regular contender at the state tournament. However, Yavneh defeated Dallas International 3-1 this year on the road, and hosts them again on Senior Night, Monday, Oct. 7.
“I don’t know how many districts out there have two teams that are perennial state contenders,” Yavneh Athletic Director David Zimmerman said. “It’s a dogfight between the two of us every year, on who wins district before we get to playoffs.”
The idea of a group of athletes banding together to find success sounds cliché. Sandler admits it, but it’s especially unusual in the age where club sports produce specialized athletes that filter into schools across the Metroplex. There’s no one superstar player; in fact, the captains on the team aren’t necessarily the most experienced.
Tyler Winton, a Yavneh senior and second-year Bulldogs veteran, describes this year’s team as a group of athletes, whereas last year’s was a group of soccer players.
“Me and my friend Reece Parker gathered our friends on the basketball team and we created a soccer team this year out of athletes who hadn’t played soccer before,” Winton said. “At the beginning of the season, our coach said we are a basketball team playing soccer, who is better at soccer than basketball.”
Winton said the experience has been interesting. Some of the players learning the flow of the game didn’t understand that certain positions played only defense or offense. But unlike other teams, he said the willingness to learn helped them progress quickly.
Winton joined the team last year as a way to get in shape for basketball season. Winton had played soccer before, but his experience was limited. This year, Winton and Parker recruited senior Jonah Eber, sophomore Ben Rael and junior Jason Prager from the basketball team to play soccer. Eber ended up being voted one of the team’s four captains; the others are Winton, Parker and Elisha Klein, a junior.
This is not to say there aren’t things on which to focus, such as not playing down to the opponents’ levels, or allowing success to go to their heads. The shooting could also use some work. “We lose a lot of shots by shooting them over the goal,” Sandler said.
Still, while expectations weren’t high at the beginning of the season, Sandler believes if the team stays in stride, it can contend for a district championship.