Red Mountain’s boys soccer program has its sights set on more than just repeating as champions of the 6A East Valley Region this season.
They envision being champions of the entire conference.
After a heartbreaking loss in last season’s quarterfinals, Red Mountain has extra motivation to win the title. But the first step they needed to take to get back to the playoffs was establishing a mindset for the rest of the season.
The second step was to get back in the gym and start working on their craft. Red Mountain was determined to take their skills to the next level, so they started their own soccer academy.
“They work five days a week. Weight room, technical training on the field, and speed and agility training,” Red Mountain coach Mike Miller said.
The results have Miller believing his team can beat anyone when playing at their best. However, there’s one problem. He needs his players to play at that level every time they step on the field.
“For us, it’s just being consistent” Miller said. “We have games where we show some inconsistency in our play. Not many, but a few. So, we need to make sure to be more consistent in our play.”
It’s easier to be consistent when returning 10 of 11 starters from the previous season. Not to mention, they have the experience to match with 15 seniors on the roster.
The combination of chemistry and experience has Red Mountain soccer poised to go further in the playoffs.
“Last year, that was our first time in the playoffs for a lot of us,” senior Ryan Galloway said. “So having that playoff experience and knowing what the atmosphere is like really helps.”
“They’ve been there,” Miller added. “They know how to play in the playoffs now, so for them that experience is going to be huge as we head into the playoffs.”
For the sophomores on the team, this will be their first taste of postseason action. With so many seniors on the roster - the sophomores have veteran leadership to look up to when facing uncertainty.
“The sophomores who are here have adopted the same mentality of the seniors,” Miller said. “The seniors have done a great job of adopting them, mentoring them and not isolating them.”
As the playoffs near, Miller wants his team to keep that same mentality that got them to this point. He wants them to remain focused - not getting complacent with success.
“You just have to work hard. At this level no one gives you anything” Miller said. “We have to go into every game and out work our opponents because on any given day, they can have their best day.”
So far, the philosophy seems to be rubbing off on the players. Evident not only by their record, but the way they carry themselves.
Red Mountain tied Westwood in the final regular season game. The Mountain Lions finished as the No. 13 team in the 6A Conference and will host Pinnacle Thursday. But they still aim for more this season.
“We have to work really hard,” senior Diego Casillas said. “This is my last year and I don’t want to have any regrets by not working hard enough.”