How boys soccer team overcame Covid restrictions to finish 12-3-2

Photo by Chadwick Cole

Junior defender Ben Roman avoids the pressure from the Ferndale forwards and passes to a teammate on October 3.

It was the first game of the season. The stadium was empty, but the Falcons were full of energy and defeated Brother Rice 3-1 on September 8.

“I didn’t need to motivate anybody for that game. It was like Christmas morning to be able to compete and do something you love again,” boys head varsity soccer coach Greg Perkins said.

In Perkins' first season this year, he was able to take the team from a 4-14-1 record last year to a 12-3-2 finish. But, this season was far from normal for the falcons.

“We had to be socially distanced with no contact for most of the preparation time leading up to the season. We did a lot of individual drills for a while. For the first few weeks nobody could touch the ball with their hands, so we couldn’t use goalkeepers or do throw-ins. Now we have to wear masks during practices and games,” Perkins said.

The restrictions posed as obstacles the Falcons had to overcome quickly if they wanted to find success. Wearing a mask while playing was especially difficult for some players.

“When it was warmer earlier in the season it was more of a problem because of sweat. In the beginning some people weren’t playing to the best of their abilities because they were still adjusting to the mask, but I think the players have gotten more used to playing in masks. By now, everyone has found the type of mask they are most comfortable in, but they still can make it more difficult to breathe than normal. It was something everyone had to adjust to,” Perkins said.

With practices postponed, most players needed to train in the preseason without guidance and often by themselves. Although this challenged the team, the players took it upon themselves to hold each other accountable.

“When we started, fitness levels were actually not bad. We encouraged everyone to work on their fitness over Zoom calls and through group chats,” Perkins said. “Once we got on the field, the focus was more on the technical side for a lot of kids because it was potentially the first time they were on the ball in six months. We were able to work on that type of stuff in individual and social distanced drills at the beginning of the season. I think most of the players took it upon themselves to be in shape and be ready for the season.”

Photo by Chadwick Cole

Senior midfielder Evan Wiley flies past a Ferndale opponent on October 3. Groves would go on to win 3-1.

After five grueling months of not being able to play, the Falcons couldn’t wait to be back on the field competing again.

“Not being able to be out on the field was hard for a lot of the players,” Perkins said. “It was something everyone had waited a long time for. It was awesome to see how hungry everyone was to be back out there playing again.”

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