It could be a year full of success sprinkled with a little bit of luck for William Freeman.
The Goose Creek Memorial boys soccer coach enters his seventh season in charge of the Patriots who ride last year’s late momentum of a Region 3 semifinal run into a new campaign that begins today at the Pasadena Cup.
The Patriots went 12-7-6 a year ago and finished fourth (7-5-2) in the District 22-5A standings.
Then the hot streak started with playoff wins against Port Neches-Groves, Manvel and Wisdom before falling 3-1 to Kingwood Park.
A handful of players from that squad is back and that experience will definitely come in handy.
“There are seven returners from last year currently on varsity, so 60 percent of the current players on varsity are new,” Freeman said. “We have a variety of players; some from JV, some that have struggled to maintain a presence in the program, and some new to the district. Since starting positions and player roles are still being established, we are currently carrying more than we typically would. At some point, players will be dropped to JV to gain more experience.”
Alejandro Alonso is the Patriots most decorated player as the center midfielder returns following a first team All-Region and All-District campaign. He is joined by fellow veterans, Gerardo Caltzontzin, Edgar Barbier and Oscar Aguirre, as the more seasoned veterans.
“Edgar has been the back up goalkeeper the last two years, but has earned quality minutes over that span,” Freeman said. “Oscar started as a sophomore at left fullback. He is the only returning starter from the back line.”
So far, GCM’s new-look squad has given Freeman plenty to think about.
“I have a group of guys that do not seem entitled to anything,” Freeman said. “I believe they want to work hard and represent a program that has had some success. It is a group that has a little bit of everything from talent, high soccer IQ, high work rate, and willingness to be coached. What some players lack in one thing, they make up in another. The coaching staff just needs to fit it all together.
“I am needing the guys to be more dependable, mainly outside of the field. Academics is always a concern, so we need to make sure they are handling their business in the classroom and the guys are buying into the same idea.”
It’s a new look, but not a new identity for the program this year.
“We were so close to going to the state - two games,” Alonso said. “We are a completely different team, but we can see what we are capable of with hard work and determination.
“Last year was a rollercoaster, but everyone who wanted to be here we grinded it out. We made it to the playoffs it’s a new season.”
To make another run or better like last year’s postseason, the Patriots will need to master district play.
“If we can figure out a system that makes the team competitive in preseason, we can make the adjustments moving into district play,” Freeman said. “The district champ, Friendswood, did not graduate many, so it will be tough to dethrone them. Lee and Texas City graduated some talent, but they always have depth in their programs. I think Crosby will make a strong push for playoffs this year.”
The coach believes anything is possible with this group and his players feel the same about him.
“We kept the discipline - that’s a big thing here at GCM,” Barbier said. “Yeah we have different personnel, but we will work to live up to that.
“With Coach, he does a great job and he can shape up into a good team.”