UHS Boys Soccer Season Begins

Some members of the boy’s soccer team scrimmage at SoFi Stadium.

Vincent Tsai, Staff Writer

Let’s play soccer! With the winter season underway, soccer at UHS is in full swing. The UHS boys’ soccer season officially began on Dec. 2, however, before the first game, the team was already making preparations far in advance.

Before the season, UHS boys soccer had the unique opportunity this year to practice at the famous SoFi Stadium after school on Friday, Nov. 4. SoFi Stadium is the largest American football stadium in the NFL and the world’s first indoor-outdoor stadium, as well as where the LA Rams won the 2022 Super Bowl. It has also been confirmed that SoFi Stadium will be one of the venues for the future 2026 FIFA World Cup games. 

The UHS boys’ soccer program, now a Division V program, has an almost completely new coaching staff this year. The coaches are head coach Martin Wallwork, varsity coach Matthew Hanson, JV coach Logan Adams and frosh/soph coach Jonah Alcalde. Boys of any level on the UHS soccer team were eligible to sign up to play at SoFi Stadium to showcase the team’s ability in front of the new coaching staff. A total of 28 players showed up for the SoFi Stadium event from all four grades.

While everyone started getting ready to play, a feeling of excitement filled the air. 

“I can’t wait to play, aren’t you excited?” sophomore Aaron Katz said. “We are in SoFi Stadium!”

Being in such a grand stadium gave many players an adrenaline rush. While playing, everyone seemed to have more stamina and a lively aura around them. Some players were overwhelmed by the joy they felt playing in SoFi.

“I couldn’t think properly while playing,” Katz said. “The only thing that mattered to me was playing in the stadium.”

Although everyone was excited by the grand venue, Coach Hanson still carefully observed each player to determine which team level to place them on for the scrimmages. What started as a carefree, enjoyable game of soccer quickly evolved into a fiercely competitive, but still fun, exhibition of soccer players battling it out to score goals. No player held back, and everyone fought for the ball with all their power and energy.

The SoFi Stadium event turned out to be a success; once it concluded, players were happy about the experience and left with lifetime memories. The following week, the boys’ soccer team met on Friday, Nov. 11 to pick up their uniforms and find out which team they made based on performances during previous tryouts. The teams only had two days of joint practice before their first preseason home soccer match against Corona Del Mar on Nov. 16. So, whether UHS would perform well was a mystery.

Before the first soccer game, junior Jordan Kfir of the JV team decided to step up and give a few motivational words.

“I don’t care what happens out there, but let’s give it our all and get a win to start the preseason off!” Kfir said. “Let’s start strong.”

The results from the games against Corona Del Mar were bittersweet. The varsity team lost 0-4, but the JV team won 3-0. Unfortunately, the UHS boys’ frosh/soph team did not get to play because Corona Del Mar lacked an adequate amount of players to form a team at that level.

The following week, on Nov. 21, UHS had another preseason game, this time an away game against Newport Harbor High. The frosh/soph team won their first game 3-2 and JV won 4-1. However, varsity lost 1-4.

Junior Muhammad Dibseh made his goalkeeping debut for the JV team in the game against Newport Harbor and did an outstanding job. Due to a lack of goalkeepers at UHS, Dibseh transitioned from defense to goalkeeping this season.

“He woke up and decided he wanted to be a goalkeeper,” Coach Adams said.

Dibseh played like a brick wall, and nothing was getting past him. After each save, the varsity team screamed, “MOMO!” the team’s nickname for Dibseh.

The two preseason soccer games demonstrated the talent each team possessed. Since high school league games had not yet begun, each team attempted to strengthen its coordination with one another. UHS began practicing with their official teams much later than other schools, so they had a lot of catching up to do to build teamwork. 

On Friday, Dec. 2, UHS had the first game of its official season. Varsity was up 2-0 at the half, with the first goal of the season scored by junior Beckhem Saengsouvanna and the second scored by senior Riad Almarsi. However, after a few mistakes, the varsity team lost the game 2-3. JV won their game 3-2, with Kfir scoring two goals, one in the first half and one in the second. Junior winger Gabe Kwok scored in the second half, putting UHS up by one. The game ended 3-2 in favor of UHS. Frosh/soph won their first game of the season 3-0. Freshman Bradley Son scored two goals and freshman Yui Tang scored one.

Over winter break, boys JV and frosh/soph soccer had an XMAS tournament that took place on Dec. 27-29. JV finished the tournament with a record of 1-1-1: one win against Mission Viejo, a draw against Los Alamitos and a loss to Mater Dei High School. Boys frosh/soph finished with a record of 1-0-2: one win against Irvine High, a loss against San Juan Hills and a loss against Edison High School. 

So far the UHS varsity team has an official record of three wins, three draws and two losses. JV has an official record of six wins, two draws and three losses. Frosh/soph has an official record of six wins, three draws and one loss. All the teams have gotten off to a strong start, but only time will tell what the rest of the season will look like.