The Peninsula High School boys soccer team has a ton to replace this season. Not just a few key players from last year’s playoff team — nearly the entire starting 11 from last year’s roster, including first-team all-league forward Keeton Heggerness, first-team midfield bruisers Teyj Menon and Ben Stanford, first-team defenders Jared Brinkman and Ozzy Marten and second-team goalkeeper Ben Undem.
“It’s a challenge,” said junior midfielder Grayson Janson about the task of replacing so much of last year’s production.
What’ll be the hardest position to replace? That answer seems to vary, depending who you ask. Some think it’ll Heggerness’ nose for the goal and ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Others say it’ll be the lost size and physicality of the midfield.
But while the prospect of such turnover might seem daunting, Peninsula’s new cast doesn’t seem too concerned. In part, that stems from the current roster’s familiarity with each other. A lot of the players on this year’s team have played together for years on club. So while it’s a “new” varsity roster, Peninsula won’t be starting from scratch.
“Most of these guys, I’ve been playing with these guys my whole life, since I started playing,” said junior wide midfielder Gabe Krishnadasan. “We all know each other and we’re all going to click and the chemistry will be there. The whole team is just ready to get all of the scrutiny about being a younger team out of the way and just play like we know we’re capable of.”
Chemistry is a theme that was echoed by many of Peninsula’s players prior to this season kicking off.
“I know all the boys we have on the team and have played with them, so I think we’ve got a team bonding that no one else has,” said junior midfielder Kel Sonnen. “We just need to keep working hard. Just the work ethic we have, we’ve got a lot of hard workers. We have a lot of skilled players, so hopefully we can keep a lot of possession during games.”
Peninsula’s goal distribution will likely be spread fairly evenly this year, as opposed to last year, when Heggerness was the clear focal point of the attack. First-year coach Alec Moore is working to bring a disciplined, compact defensive style of play and build the attack from the back.
“He goes over tactics well, goes over what we need to do on the field,” Janson said of his first-year head coach. “He’s really told us what we need to do and is very detailed.”
Krishnadasan said this year’s team is highly motivated to step out of the shadow of last year’s group and make a name for themselves.
“We just want to come out the first two or three games and put some balls into the back of the net, come out and win some games early on,” he said. “This team has a great workrate. There’s no guy that doesn’t want to be out there.”
While the rest of the league might have fairly low expectations for Peninsula’s young squad, the Seahawks’ players are bullish on their prospects, regardless.
“We have to like each other, we have to know each others game,” Janson said. “I think we do that really well. Especially after losing a ton of seniors, we’ve all come in and worked really well together so far in practice. I think we’ll do very well in the season. I think we have a really good team this year. I hope to go really far in state and I just think we’ll have a good season overall.”