Boys Soccer Season Recap


Karen Hickey

Photo Courtesy of Karen Hickey

After an underwhelming 2020-2021 season riddled with the effects of COVID and a disappointing number of wins, the Paly boys soccer team was completely unsure of what the following season had to offer. 

Going into the regular season, it seemed the team would replicate their season of no avail, starting the season with one loss, two ties, and no wins, sitting second from last in the SCVAL league. Despite the slow start, the team had yet to give up on their goal of making the CCS tournament. 

This task would be easier said than done, with Paly having to win many of their next 12 games to be able to clinch a spot in the CCS bracket. 

The boys then put their heads down and pulled through the regular season, going on a nine-game undefeated streak, granting them a spot in the third seed in the tournament. This game included their senior night against cross-town enemies the Gunn Titans.

“The most memorable game this year was senior night against Gunn. Our arch-rival put up a valiant fight but our unwavering intensity ultimately crushed the titans, putting their number of losses in the double digits,” junior Charlie Merkel said. “With a winning goal in the final minutes of the match, the game ended up being one of the best moments this season and an awesome way to send the seniors off.”

Overcoming the disappointing season that COVID brought last year, and the various ups and downs that came with victories and losses of this year, the Paly boys soccer team competed in the CCS tournament, finished this season a 9-5-5 (WLT), and had countless laughs, innumerable high-fives, and many nights of unforgettable games. 

This season really is a turning point for the program. Coach Rusty and our players have really shown that Paly soccer is back and we are a formidable side to play against.

— Jonas Pao

“When I first joined Paly soccer, we were kind of in the mud,” junior Jonas Pao said. “We had trouble winning even one game, and our program was lucky to not get relegated.” 

Then, COVID troubles and graduating a senior class didn’t help the outlook of the team. Pao notes how impressive the season was because of that, emphasizing the importance that every person played in reaching this point.

“Considering the numerous problems our team faced this year with three COVID exposures and multiple injuries, the season’s results were very good,” junior Charlie Merkel said.

What some would expect to be another winless season for the Vikings had led to an implausible series of events, which brought Paly boys soccer back onto the radar for the next season.

“This season really is a turning point for the program,” Pao said. “Coach Rusty and our players have really shown that Paly soccer is back and we are a formidable side to play against.”

After what was the best season in Paly soccer in the past years, the team looks to the future of the program. With countless strong talents returning next season along with freshman and sophomore stars from the junior varsity team, the team is confident they will be a force to be reckoned with in both the SCVAL league and the CCS playoffs.

“Although our seniors were a big part of our squad and we’ll miss them a lot, I’m very optimistic about next season,” Merkel said. “Since our team did well this year, the logical next step up is to win the league, which I think is a very real possibility next year.”