Preview: Mount Vernon boys soccer

Victor Reyes

Mount Vernon junior goalie Victor Reyes.  (Benjamin Machado photo)

Boys soccer tryouts at Mount Vernon are tough. Every year, more than 100 students compete for a spot on a roster that consists of only 22-24 players on the varsity and junior varsity teams.

“We have a good amount of students coming to try out every year,” said assistant coach Sally Gilliam. “There is so much young talent and unfortunately we have to cut [some of] them.”

This year’s team will be a little different. While last year’s squad consisted of many seniors, this year’s team will have many young players — and just six seniors — looking to help the Majors build on 2016’s 7-10-1 campaign.

“It’s a whole new team,” said senior Festus Aguai. “It’s a young team, it’s a team with a lot more potential.”

Anthony Garza is back for his sixth season as head coach, after serving the previous five years as head coach of the girls’ team. As the team prepares to face a slew of tough opponents this year, Garza says they embark on this journey as a family.

Festus Aguai

Mount Vernon senior forward Festus Aguai. (Benjamin Machado photo)

“A team is like a brotherhood,” said Garza. “Each member is seen as a family member. It’s one team, one heart.”

Mount Vernon won the Virginia AAA championship in 2013. It’s been a difficult milestone for the Majors subsequent teams to live up to. Mount Vernon has fought to remain a district and regional contender, but making states again remains the ultimate goal for the team.

“It’s always the goal in mind,” said Aguai. “There is never a chance where we do not play for it, we play every game as it is our last. It sounds cliche, but a mentality like that helps me improve every game.”

Maybe the most anticipated game of this season will be a home matchup against West Potomac on April 21. Last season the rival Wolverines routed the Majors 4-1 in front of a large crowd.

“I feel like I am prepared to face them again this year,” said Victor Reyes, a 2nd team all-district goalie. “As a team, however, we have a lot to prepare for. They were not easy last year, I doubt they will be easy this year.”

The Majors conclude the regular season May 1 against Annandale, and then hope to embark on another deep playoff run. In the first round of last year’s region tournament, the Majors nearly upset the top-ranked school Oakton, until the Cougars rallied to win in the end.

“I watched as the joy and resilience from my players slowly crept away from my players,” said Garza. “Some just stood there on the field the last two minutes in utter disbelief of it all.”

Soccer is one of the most successful sports at Mount Vernon in recent years, but it does not always get the recognition at the school that football and basketball receive. However the popularity of the sport does not matter to the players or the coach.

“All we care about is having fun,” said sophomore Dennis Orellana. “We do what we love, and that’s what keeps us happy.”

03/21 Tue. 7:15 p.m. (H) WT Woodson (lost 4-1)
03/22 Wed. 7:45 p.m. (A) Edison
03/23 Thu. 7:15 p.m. (A) South County
03/27 Mon. 7:15 p.m. (H) Lake Braddock Secondary School
03/29 Wed. 7:15 p.m. (H) George Mason
04/03 Mon. 7:15 p.m. (H) Woodbridge
04/06 Thu. 7:15 p.m. (A) West Springfield
04/17 Mon. 7:15 p.m. (A) Briar Woods
04/19 Wed. 7:15 p.m. (H) Falls Church
04/21 Fri. 7:15 p.m. (H) West Potomac
04/24 Mon. 7:15 p.m. (H) Colgan
04/27 Thu. 7:15 p.m. (A) TC Williams
05/01 Mon. 7:15 p.m. (H) Annandale