(COVINGTON, La.)– This year the St. Paul’s soccer team has one singular goal: “We want to go back to work. We want to win it again,” said senior midfielder Jimmy Till. Coming off of another dominant 2018-2019 season, the Varsity Soccer Wolves look to defend their state title and possibly become one of the best teams in school history.
The fans always expect the team to win the state championship. Year after year Coach Sean Moser leads the team to the finals, and with each state final more pressure mounts upon the next year’s team to do the same. Even though most would be crushed by the weight of the expectations, the soccer players seems to thrive under the pressure.
Since the summer, the senior captains of the team have been leading “captain’s practices.” During their free time, a senior player will call a team practice during the off season to bolster team chemistry, promote initiative, and inspire leadership among the younger players. Even after graduating, the senior players are known for returning to St. Paul’s to participate in captain’s practices in an effort to pass on the torch to the next generation of St. Paul’s Soccer Wolves.
Several members of the 2018-2019 State Champion team are returning this year, including senior captains Benjamin Schwing and Michael Dufour, the hat-trick hero of last year’s final. Having won six of the last nine state finals, this team is brimming with confidence.
This has not changed what is really important to the team, though. According to Schwing, “What really matters is how hard we’re working, day in day out, and making sure the outcome is success on the field.” Schwing has been playing on the varsity team for three years, beginning with the 2017-2018 season. That 2017-2018 team had won the state championship the previous year, but struggled to maintain that standard of excellence and ultimately lost out to arch-rivals Jesuit in the state finals in heartbreaking fashion.
The team this year find themselves in the same position as the 2017-2018 team. Schwing continued, “What’s in the past is in the past. With so many state championships under your belt you can’t think about all of that. It’s all about coming in and starting fresh, starting clean. You’ve got to go in working hard like any other year, striving to be successful.”
A majority of the varsity squad plays together at Mandeville Soccer Club year round. “We’ve been playing on the same Mandeville Soccer Club team since U11. It’s surreal to play with them on the high school level as well,” said Schwing. The Mandeville Soccer Club team has traveled the country playing some of the very best the club level has to offer. “Our chemistry is unreal and we’ve been beating some of the best club teams in the country, so I’m just really excited to how that translates to school soccer,” said Till.
The fans of the 2019-2020 Soccer Wolves can look forward to seeing another strong varsity squad like every year, but Coach Moser has hinted at possibly moving away from his favored 4-4-2 formation (four defenders, four midfielders, two strikers). “I’ve always played the same system in 30 years of coaching, and we’ve been successful. The talent we have this year lends itself to changing the formation and system of playing,” said Moser. After losing attacking midfielder Connor Walmsley and finding the team full of defensive-minded midfielders, Moser suggested possibly using a 4-3-3 with a strong midfield three. “This year’s team is the deepest we’ll have ever had. I know we have some the deepest levels of talent in 11 years of coaching here, but it’s up to the players on the field to bring it all together,” said Moser.
The 2019-2020 soccer season begins on Tuesday, Nov. 19 with a strong Dutchtown team at Hunter Stadium. Dutchtown is ranked number two in the state, right after the Wolves, and will test the new St. Paul’s Varsity squad. With the wisdom and experience of veteran senior players, the wolves are prepared to once again defend the state title and strive to become one of the best teams in the history of Louisiana high school soccer.