November has arrived and that cool crispness in the air points directly to the start of Bobcat Soccer. Coach Alex Mallion’s squad gets started Tuesday, November 14, against Hartfield Academy and, according to the third-year head coach, his Bobcats are extremely excited for the challenge a new year brings.
“It’s been high quality and high intensity,” Mallion commented on his squad’s early practices. “It takes some adjusting physically for guys who play football and we don’t have the breaks in play; you have to play both sides of the ball. It’s a physically demanding game, and if we can get to the level we want to be as far as physical condition that will be half of it.”
2016-2017 saw a lot of transition as the Bobcats scurried to replace their entire starting 11 to graduation. This year is different and with only one player lost to graduation, Mallion feels like the team is ready to take another step.
“One of our biggest goals is to improve on last year, not just in our overall record but the way we play, our level of trust for each other, and our willingness to fight. Luckily, unlike the previous year, we only lost one to graduation.”
That solo graduation loss was in the form of goalkeeper, but according to Mallion, Ian Smith is definitely up for the task of being the Bobcat’s keeper. Mallion prasied his junior keeper, noting that the entire team has a lot of confidence in him anchoring the defense.
“Our strength will be our togetherness. We feel like we are one big family and we will do anything to help our team. We need to continue to improve our soccer IQ. Inexperience will be our biggest concern early on, but we have a fantastic attitude as a team and a willingness to improve that will allow us to only get stronger throughout the year.”
Mallion’s squad will face three non-conference opponents to begin the season and will start conference play at home vs. MRA December 5. The Bobcats will enjoy their first five games at home in the friendly confines of Bobcat Stadium with their first road tilt slated for December 8 when the Bobcats return the trip back to Hartfield Academy in Jackson.
Mallion was very quick to acknowledge the difficulty of the conference but also noted the strengths and confidence of his team as well.
“Jackson Prep is always strong along with the other Jackson schools. We have the potential with our roster to be competing right up there with them. I see us landing anywhere from middle to top of the conference and if we want it enough, we could be pushing for a chance to play for a state championship.”
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