St. Anthony boys’ soccer and coach Aaron Rodriguez are thrilled to start a full season together.
Rodriguez took over the program in January and the Saints scuffled through the rescheduled season with low player turnout.
“We didn’t have time to prepare because we didn’t know when the season was coming,” Rodriguez said. “The parents were still skeptical of coming to training and wearing masks during games. All of the rules were so weird. There was always something different… Preparation is the main thing.”
The Saints have been preparing for a bounce back season with Jacob Haskill leading the way. The junior center forward is the most dangerous player St. Anthony has because of his strength and speed. Haskill is a natural ball winner, so Rodriguez said the more they feed him the better.
Sophomore Evan Paerels and senior Ryan Norried will join Haskill up top with junior Gabe Suarez leading the midfield behind them. Suarez didn’t play with the Saints last season because he was with Beach FC like most of the other seniors on this squad.
Freshman Ian Gutierrez has won himself a spot in the midfield during offseason training. That’s the same thing sophomore Caleb Haskill did last year as a freshman who played almost every game.
Defensively, St. Anthony will rely on senior Edwin Avila and junior Andrew Kamienski at center back. Kamienski moved to the back line and has played for the Beach FC ECNL team.
Seniors Alexis Garibay and Nico Rivera are tabbed to be left and right backs, respectively, who could play a major role in the Saints formation.
“Depends on how we’re pressing and the formation the other team is running,” Rodriguez said about pushing his outside backs up the field. “If its a 4-4-2 then we’ll push them up. If it’s a 4-2-3 then we’ll tend to hold them back a little bit depending on the aggressiveness of the other teams outside backs and wingers. We try to adapt as much as possible.”
Junior Blake Collins is back in goal after missing all but two games last season due to injury.
Although St. Anthony broke ground on the new athletic facility at Clark Field a few weeks ago, it won’t be finished for months. That means the Saints will have to train on the baseball field and won’t be able to host any games at Clark Field.
“Every game will involve a bus ride there so it will be a little extra preparation,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a bummer for the seniors that they won’t get to play home games on the field but there is still overall excitement that we’re getting a full season and it’s finally happening. This season is going to be a little bit weird but we just have to roll with the punches.”