Holmes boys soccer goal: Head to regionals
Adam Turer, firstname.lastname@example.org:22 p.m. EDT September 26, 2016
Holmes' Jose Benito de la Cruz takes the ball from Highlands' Joe Broering. Jim Owens for the Enquirer
Holmes High School’s boys soccer team has its sights set on advancing to the regional tournament for the first time since 1998.
The Bulldogs, in head coach Tom Haggard’s third season at the helm, have the pieces to make such a run. Holmes is off to a 9-3-2 start and has a group of seniors who have bought into the program.
“We have great senior leadership. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach our seniors for their entire Holmes career and their level of commitment and dedication inspires our underclassmen,” said Haggard. “This senior class has been rebuilding this soccer program for four years and I’m thrilled they are seeing their hard work pay off with a great season thus far.”
In addition to his dedicated players, Haggard credits his coaching staff of Christian Reyes, Ryan Black, and Andrew Yokajty with helping him turn the program around. The staff is committed to helping build successful young men, in addition to quality soccer players.
A turning point for the program has been the signs of resiliency that the Bulldogs have displayed this season. Trailing Owen County early in the match rattled the Bulldogs. They rallied for a 7-2 victory. Holmes teams of the past may not have been able to complete the comeback.
“Throughout the process of rebuilding our soccer program at Holmes, we have been in a number of close games but just could not pull out the win. Now, we are winning those games,” said Haggard. “That game showed our team to have confidence in one another and our ability to bounce back from adversity.”
Seniors Kerry Nolasco and Josh Lemus lead the offense, combining for 25 goals. But they have not had to do it alone. Twelve different Bulldogs have found the back of the net this season. Newcomer DV Gulley has seven goals to complement the senior leaders.
It does not take explosive offense for this team to win. The Bulldogs have secured six shutouts, thanks to the play of senior goalkeeper Roy Carter. Haggard calls his keeper “a force of nature.” Carter is a natural at the position.
“This is a student-athlete who had not played goalkeeper four years ago and now is one of the best in the region. His pure athleticism enables him to make saves that are just incredible,” said Haggard. “Our starting defense has also consistently played with poise and with discipline which enables us to execute our game plan on a daily basis.”
In order to reach their goals and take the program to heights it has not reached in nearly two decades, the Bulldogs will need to continue to play with discipline.
“It’s been something that I have been preaching in all my time here at Holmes,” said Haggard. “We have some really gifted and talented soccer players, but we have to be able to play disciplined soccer for 80 minutes every night and execute our game plan.”
Sometimes, it takes more than 80 minutes of discipline. Holmes’s most recent victory, on September 24, was a 2-1 overtime win over Beechwood. The game-winner was scored just 15 seconds into the golden goal period. That exemplified the focus and discipline that have changed the culture of Holmes soccer.