The T.C. Williams boys’ soccer team features 17 seniors, a sizable amount of experience that would be a luxury for any coach. They have instilled the Titans with a sense of know-how and calm, but also a sense of urgency.
“These guys all kind of have that ticking clock mentality and know their time is almost up,” Coach Peter Abed said. “They don’t want that time to be up, so I think that’s a big part of [their identity].”
You can most clearly see their desperation on defense, where the team has established itself as unrelenting and physical. After losing to Justice, 2-1, in overtime to start the season, the Titans have gone 9-0-1 and conceded just three goals.
“One idea that we’ve always hung our hat on is defending desperately,” Abed said. “Getting your body in front of shots, always looking to cover for your teammate and just giving it that intensity that’s needed. Sometimes it’s not even a tactical thing with defense; sometimes it’s about that intensity and desire.”
Behind their back line, two goalkeepers anchor the team. Seniors Cesar Navas Gomez and Jack Grainger are college-level talents with experience. At the beginning of the spring, Abed knew it would be impossible to choose between them, so he didn’t. The Titans use both goalies, basically half and half.
“For me as a coach, there was no way to look at these guys, both of whom could be at another school starting every game, and say ‘Okay, you are going to start most games, and you are going to get a few games here and there,’ ” Abed said. “Not with the talent they have and they work ethic they have.”
Although Abed calls his 17 seniors the “spine of this team,” he said the roster features a lot of talented underclassmen, too. More than anything, that depth has carried the Titans to such a promising start and makes them optimistic about the rest of this season.
“They’re really fun to watch,” Abed said. “There’s no superstars here; it’s just a team of really good players. Anybody can come in and change a match.”
1. Briar Woods (9-0-0) LR: 2
The Falcons came out of spring break hot by beating Broad Run, 5-1.
2. Hylton (10-0-0) LR: 4
The Bulldogs kept pouring in goals and remained undefeated with a 5-0 win over Potomac and a 6-3 victory against Forest Park last week.
3. Robinson (6-0-3) LR: 3
The Rams bounced back from their second draw of the year against W.T. Woodson with a 2-0 win over West Springfield.
4. South Lakes (9-1-0) LR: 1
The Seahawks couldn’t find any offense in a 1-0 loss to Herndon, their first of the spring.
5. Westfield (7-1-1) LR: 5
The Bulldogs return from spring break with two games against Centreville and one against Madison.
6. T.C. Williams (9-2-3) LR: 7
The Titans went into spring break with a strong 3-0 win over West Potomac.
7. Washington-Lee (7-2-2) LR: 8
Sophomore Julio Rodriguez scored a hat trick as the Generals’ beat Langley, 6-2.
8. Riverside (8-2-0) LR: 6
The Rams fell to Dominion, 3-1, in their second defeat of the year.
9. Loudoun Valley (8-1-2) LR: 10
The Vikings have a rematch with Riverside, the only team to beat them this year, coming up this week.
10. Gar-Field (7-1-1) LR: 9
The Indians have a big matchup with undefeated Hylton on Wednesday.
Dropped out: None.
On the bubble: Madison, Battlefield, Stonewall Jackson