New-look Bulldogs must find an identity to make run for District crown

Published 12:48 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

NEDERLAND — Nederland boys soccer graduated many starters last year, but new faces have not dampened expectations for the Bulldogs.

Last season, the Bulldogs finished in second place in the district behind Galena Park. The new-look Bulldogs want their shot at the District 21-5A title.

“We knew this year was going to be challenging,” senior Isaac Sandoval said. “We had a golden generation of seniors that left. This year, we really set our foundation, which is possession. We have known each other for many years. The team chemistry and the team bonding is going to help us succeed this season.”

Head Coach Keith Barrow said he is ready to see what his players can do.

“We are excited,” Barrow said. “We have a lot of seniors this year. We are looking forward to seeing what these guys can do. We have quite a few players returning with some good experience. We’re looking pretty good heading into the preseason.”

The expects some adjustment time for his players, but added he thinks they will be ready.

“With the guys coming in, it is a challenge,” Barrow said. “The speed of the game is probably the biggest thing to adjust to. So far, they have stepped up to the challenge. I think we will be pretty competitive this year.”

Sandoval will be one of the seniors Barrow leans on to set the tone .

“He was a starter for us last year,” Barrow said. “Carlos Barahona was a move-in for us last year. He came from another country. He was a nice, pleasant addition for us. He is a big guy. He gives us some size, which helps us on crosses and he is able to win some balls in the air.”

With many new starting spots to fill, Barrow is anxious to see how the newcomers on varsity pan out.

“We have a few seniors that are new from playing JV last year,” he said. “Because we were so senior-heavy, we had quite a few juniors on JV. They are going to contribute pretty well. We have a freshman that has stepped up into the rotation in Edgar Garcia. He is going to be able to do great things for us. He is our right back.

“We want to get through these tournaments. We play some really good teams. We play West Brook. We have Lumberton. We also have a Dayton tournament. Our objective in this preseason is to see who will step up and fill some gaps we have and gel as a team.”

With the team still being relatively new, Barrow said the Bulldogs need to find an identity.

“If we can find our identity early, we can know who we are before we get into district,” he said.