The Oak Hill boys soccer program is no stranger to success.
However, making the move back to Class AAA last season, some may have thought the Red Devils would struggle.
After knocking off Princeton in the first sectional match, Oak Hill defeated Woodrow Wilson to take home the sectional title.
“The biggest thing for us was it wasn’t a big change as far as our schedule,” Oak Hill head coach Lenny Keaveny said. “We played all those teams that were Class AAA anyway and our schedule is always stacked with the best teams around the state. It wasn’t really a move up because we were already there. We knew what to expect and the boys were willing to do the work.”
Hoping to continue the success from the past few seasons, Oak Hill will step onto the pitch this year armed with plenty of experience.
“We lost three players. Somehow we always reload,” Keaveny said. “I think it is true with any team, you are only as good as the work that the boys are willing to put in. The boys are always willing to do the work and that is what is important.”
Experience is not the only positive for this Oak Hill team. It is a group that has tasted big-time success in the past.
“Some of these kids won a state championship when they were U10’s against one of the best teams from up north. That is how long this group has been around. They have it in them,” Keaveny said. “The idea is, they know what to do. This team can be as good as the previous teams that we have had, or better, and we have had some great teams. There is no reason to feel this team will be any less than the other teams were.”
Jack Hayes, Ty Carr and Colton Workman are back and all received all-state honors last year. They will be joined by Tony Clacker, Ty Wilburn, Jacob Mrozek, Andrew Callahan, Eli Calloway and Logan Lemon.
“We have a bunch of players that are soccer players,” Keaveny said. “We also have good athletes as far as our freshmen that have joined us. There are several players that could be Player of the Year candidates and first-team all-staters. One of the things I tell the boys is you have to beat good teams in order to be recognized by the other coaches.”
Having a team with strong personalities and a bevy of good players can sometimes lead to chemistry issues. Keaveny does not see that as a problem for this batch of Red Devils.
“I think they understand what it takes to win. It is often hard to take instruction from your peers, but they all understand that we are all after the same thing,” Keaveny said. “Put your teammate first and put your ego to the side. One of the things we say is, we live and die by the effort we make for one another.”
So, is there a weakness that the veteran coach sees in this team?
“I think the big thing is they are teenagers. Everything is all peaches and cream as long as we haven’t played anybody and all seems good,” Keaveny said. “We will see how this team deals with adversity because that is the real test of character.”
After making it to regional play last year, Oak Hill ran into the juggernaut that is George Washington who went on to win its third straight state championship a week later.
It was a learning experience that Keaveny hopes will pay dividends this season.
“(GW) was a senior stacked team last year, but the boys lost to them by the same score as the eventual championship game,” Keaveny said. ” Against GW it was a different animal to tame and a much bigger beast than they were ready for. However, this group of guys are fun to be around and as long as they are willing to work for one another, they will be successful.”