In 2012, the Cathedral City boys’ soccer team finished second in the Desert Valley League standings with the help of five starting sophomores.
Last season, the five again guided the Lions to the postseason, only to lose in the first round for the second consecutive year.
Now seniors, the group has led the team to a 12-2-1 start and appear poised to compete for the DVL title and make a deep postseason run.
Among the group is striker Kaessen Nolan, who leads the team in scoring with eight goals on the season.
Nolan may be the fastest player in the valley this year.
With Nolan’s elite speed, the Lions have been able to play a more fasted paced style of offense, and have been able to consistently beat teams with the long ball.
Using the technique, teammates have routinely forced the ball down field with a single kick, creating a footrace to the ball, often creating one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper.
The Desert Sun recently caught up with Nolan to discuss this brand of soccer, this year’s squad, and what it’ll take to get his squad beyond the first round of CIF.
QUESTION: You guys haven’t been beyond the first round of the postseason since 2011, when you guys were freshmen. What is the goal this year?
ANSWER: To win. We want to get to CIF, get a home game and see how far we can go. We want to win it. We have the team to do it.
Have you seen improvement since last year?
Yes, we have. Just playing together for all these years, we have a feel for each other. Every year we get more comfortable with each other.
You are known as one of the fastest guys in the valley. What did you do during the offseason to physically get to that level?
Just a lot of running over the summer. We run every practice, like miles. We run track and we run what we call figure eights. It’s about three miles a day. Then we do our regular practice.
Have you increased your speed much as a result?
Yeah, I think I’ve actually gotten faster since last year.
You have excelled on the long ball this year because of your speed. How has that been so successful?
Our speed is our strength. I think we’re just faster than other teams and that’s why we’ve been so successful playing that way.
Coach Ruiz has said you may have an opportunity to play in college. Have you given that much thought?
Yeah, I’m actually going up to UNLV tonight (Friday) for a camp.
So that’s something I’m definitely thinking about.
Other than using that speed advantage, what are some of the other things you think you can do to help the team make a deep CIF run?
Not getting down on each other. Since we’re so close as a team, we yell at each other and sometimes our confidence goes down.
But if we are not down on each other, we can play really well.