The Notre Dame Cougars defeated the Innisfail Cyclones 4-0 last Friday evening at the Collicutt Centre.
The mid-season win sets the Cougars up nicely heading into play-offs. Head coach Humberto Aspillaga said the team is in good shape this season thanks to extensive training but believes the big win last week was due largely to the teamwork shown on the field.
“We were able to work as a team and do what we do in practice,” said Aspillaga following the game. “The most important aspect at the high school level is learning we all need one another and we need to be able to work as a team.
“If we do well it’s a combination of having the proper support from your teammates both on and off the field.”
He added a desire for the ball and the passion to play are all necessary in addition to teamwork in order to win games.
“I work very hard as a coach to help develop players’ roles on the team, but at the same time you have to ensure you’re working together as a team and that’s really what we saw happening at Friday’s game.”
A bit of skill doesn’t hurt either, with the coach adding his team has a number of players who have played high levels of soccer including a player who ran a semi-professional career in Chile, a number of players also heading into their season with the Red Deer Renegades Soccer Club, and a number of players who play club soccer out of Edmonton.
It wasn’t skill Aspillaga was looking for at the beginning of the season however, adding their ‘try-out process’ may be a bit different than other schools in their league.
“One of the philosophies we have adopted at Notre Dame is that we never cut a player from the team – they cut themselves from the team by not showing up to practice.”
With that being said, Aspillaga didn’t make the practices easy, stating the process shows an athlete’s motivation and dedication, starting the season a month prior to their first game with early morning runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m. Aspillaga added not only does it help show a players commitment level, it also helped get the teams’ endurance to a heightened level before the season.
The coached added society benefits from the hard work and dedication students learn while playing soccer.
“Kids want to learn and these skills are going to prove beneficial later in life,” he explained. “The things they learn in the field whether it’s learning to care for a fellow teammate or translating the hard work they do in practice into the work they do at school in the classroom – the benefits are endless.”
Aspillaga added he is happy with how the team is progressing and pleased to see the development of the player’s skills over the year and is looking forward to seeing how the team does come play-offs.