Article by: Sacha Bindra
Last year, school history was made as the ISM boys varsity soccer won gold at IASAS, on their home turf. The response was phenomenal, as each member of the community felt immense pride for the team that had led the school to victory. Naturally, the players too were ecstatic, with sophomore Johnathan H. noting, “It felt good to help some seniors do what they have been waiting four years to do.” Yet with each win comes the added pressure of defending the championship title – a new obstacle the boys team must now face.
Perhaps the most notable difference in this year’s team is the loss of various, talented seniors. Half of the winning team from last year has now graduated, leaving space for some promising new members. Jonathan explains that “there has been a lot of adjusting” to such a significant difference in members of the team. Regardless, months of practices have allowed them to come together, and he believes that “[the team] still has a really big chance to win gold this year.”
As stated previously, the pressure is on for the boys to defend their title. Competing schools and players may see ISM with a bullseye hanging over their heads. Johnathan acknowledges this, saying, “There’s always pressure and a target on your back after you have won the gold, but we can’t let that get in our way… we have to stay focused on our one and only goal.” While each player may process the pressure in his own way, it’s clear that they all converge to reach a collective target.
Another variation for the team may be the lack of Bearcats in the stands of JIS, cheering the team on. The support of Bearcats from each part of the school was an integral part of the athletes’ experience last year. Especially during losses, school pride remains elevated and strong. Oftentimes, strong school presence aided the boys team greatly. Johnathan says, “the support from the Bearcats kept our heads up and so we knew that we had something to keep playing for.” Although they might lack such strong vocal support, nothing else changes.
“Soccer is soccer anyway you look at it, so playing at a different school won’t feel strange,” says Johnathan. “It will only mean that we might not have as many fans supporting us from the stands.”
Although we’re not present, students not participating in IASAS can always cheer their classmates on through the livestream. It aids the players, as Johnathan says, “knowing that [they] have all the fans at home watching and cheering us on.” Yet whether it’s a win or a loss, at home or abroad, it’s evident that ISM support is something that never falters, no matter the situation.