Male Team of the Year; Boys’ Soccer
After 120 minutes of intense play in the Central Coast Section championships, the 2009 Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ soccer team finished its season as co-champions. Hard work and team chemistry throughout the season propelled the boys forward landing them a spot against Bellarmine College Prep in the CCS finals.
The team started the season undefeated for its first 11 games, losing only to Gilroy 0-2. Ending the season with a record of 21-1-3, the varsity boys’ soccer team established itself as the most successful boys’ soccer team in history.
The team’s strong unity between returning players as well as the quick integration of new teammates, assisted in it’s immediate success in the beginning of the season.
“The chemistry was great because most of the players had played together for a while,” defender Mark Raftrey (’11) said. “The rest of us fed off of that camaraderie, which carried over to the field where everyone could trust each other.”
The team chemistry centered around the strong leadership from its senior players. The six seniors: Greg Stewart (09′), Peter Johnson (’09), Kevin Ashworth (’09), Michael Hanabusa (’09), John Christopherson (’09) and Adam Zernik (’09) proved to be influential on the success of the team throughout the season.
Christopherson consistently helped get the team excited for every game and was key in keeping the defensive players focused.
“John [Christopherson] just got everyone pumped and ready to play,” striker Kris Hoglund (’12) said. “Every game he gave the speech in the huddle right before game time to get everyone going.”
In addition, Hanabusa was a key component in making the many new underclassmen feel a part of the team.
“Michael always just went around to everyone, was really friendly and made them feel good,” Hoglund said.
The team had many memorable games this season. One of the most notable was their semifinal win against Watsonville.
“The semifinal win was the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” midfielder John Richardson (’11) said. “After Jenner [Fox ('10)] scored the own goal with only a few minutes left I thought we were done, but Elliot’s [Sanborn ('10)] flip throw saved us.”
Spencer Sims (’10) then broke the tie with a goal in the 94th minute of overtime winning the game. This allowed the team to continue onto the CCS championships.
Overall, the team’s success this season attributes to its winning of the Team of the Year title. The team feels that many elements contributed to the win.
“We deserve team of the year because we were a top team from the beginning, and every team would come out fired up to take us down,” Raftrey said. “Its not like we tied lots of games, and played to not lose, but we went out hoping to win decisively.”
Teammate Richardson feels that their clutch goals and strong defense are two of the main reasons it was voted male team of the year.
“We were only scored on once which shows our defensive power,” Richardson said. “We also found goals where it mattered, like in the last few minutes of games and overtimes during CCS. Also, to top it off, we’re CCS champions.”