In only his second year as head soccer coach for the Farmington Knights, Addea Rique and his team are playing like a veteran championship team.
With four players that can put the ball in the back of the net from any place on the field, the Knights are closing in on district play with a 16-1-2 record and ranked third in the state in 3A league play.
“We have four players who are dominant - seniors Matt Eaton and Andres Castro and freshmen Bryce Sancegraw and Tristan Stotler,” Rique said. “They are able to score anytime in any game.”
But, according to the head coach, their success has not just come off the foot of those four players but by playing strong defense and becoming much more organized as a team.
“When it comes down to it, it’s defense that makes you successful,” Rique said. “Our team’s defense, so far, has been excellent. In 18 games, we have only conceded 11 goals.”
According to Rique, most people believe that defense only comes from the backfield with strong defenders and a good keeper, but as far as the Knights’ head coach is concerned, it starts at the top and works its way back to a solid goalkeeper.
Additionally, Rique says the team owes much of its success to being a very organized team, specifically when it comes to defense.
“Organization starts with defense,” Rique said. “I think that is one of our biggest changes over last year. We are much more organized.”
It’s the development of that organization as a team over the last year that the head coach believes has made his team successful.
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“During the first year, it was a new program - new players and different coaches,” Rique said. “It took a while for us to adapt to what we were trying to teach and how we wanted it, but now the players are playing very comfortable under pressure and everything is going well.”
But success didn’t come to the soccer team over night. In fact, Rique really began to see a change in the team until after their 1-0 lost against De Smet Jesuit High School.
“Although we lost 1-0 to De Smet, the organization was very good,” Rique said. “I think that was our building point for us. I thought if we could be an organized team against a very good De Smet team than that was a building block to getting better.”
Since that loss to De Smet, the Knights have been on a roll - winning two consecutive tournaments and racking up 16 victories in league play. However, it was the victory at the CYC Tournament that really go people noticing the Knights.
“The CYC Tournament has been played for 61years and not everyone can say they won it,” Rique said. “This was our first time entering it and it was a grueling tournament. We played five games in six days. But we won all five games.”
In addition to the competition being tough, the Knight had to deal with the constant traveling over the course of six days.
“We had to travel from Farmington to Seckman twice,” said Rique. Then we had to travel to Lutheran South and then the Soccer Park in Fenton twice as well. It was brutal but we did come out on top.”
With only a handful of games left in the regular season, Rique and his team now have their eyes of the district tournament.
“On paper, Farmington looks like the better team, and some may think it will be easy for us,” Rique said. “But these district games will be some of the toughest games yet. Teams are going to have watched us so they will know what to expect from us.”