Folsom boys' soccer team still aiming highBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
After back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, Folsom High’s varsity boys’ soccer team has reached a rebuilding phase.
Gone are 15 seniors from last year’s 23-1-4 team that won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I soccer championship and reached the Northern California playoff semifinals before suffering its only loss of the season, 1-0, to St. Ignatius.
Last year’s coach, Mike McBride, is also gone, as Justin Milami has taken over the program. Folsom does return 11 players off of last year’s team, but the only two that saw considerable playing time were senior forward Kevin Grewal and junior midfielder Nathan Gosal. Other than that, the other players will be playing meaningful varsity minutes for the first time.
Despite the turnover, Milami said expectations are high.
“I have high expectations for them, and the players do as well,” Milami said. “This team has good chemistry and a very good work ethic. It’s a young team, but they’re developing well. I’m looking for them to continue to come together as a group and learn from their experiences and build from them.”
Grewal scored a team-high 29 goals last season and also had nine assists. Of the other returning players, none scored more than one goal or had more than two assists. Obviously, the Bulldogs are going to look for Grewal to lead them in goal scoring. Gosal played in 26 games a year ago and scored a goal and added two assists.
“Kevin has good work ethic and is always working to get better,” Milami said. “He’s a positive player who’s always encouraging his teammates.
Seniors Kyle May (center back) and Cobin Leitch (left back) didn’t see a lot of playing time a year ago, but are expected to make big contributions this season. Newcomers Jordan Sabalsa (senior, midfielder) and juniors Colton Racioppe (right back), Jordan Lenehan (midfielder) and Austin Nguyen (center back) also figure to be key players for Milami.
Folsom has started the season fairly neutral. After tying Rio Americano, 0-0, and Antelope, 1-1, it picked up its first win Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory over Kennedy. Grewal had a pair of goals, while sophomore midfielder Bradley Salvador also scored and added an assist. Junior Braden Baker was solid in goal, as Kennedy could have scored at least two other goals were it not for some nice saves from Baker.
Folsom’s next game is Dec. 14 at Franklin.