Following a 2018 campaign that saw the Fremont High School boys soccer squad finish with a 4-11 record and a first-round district exit at the hands of the eventual state champion Kearney Bearcats.
This season the Tigers will return 10 letter winners including seniors Carlos Ahumada, Nate Dillon, David Estrada, Ricky Guel, Reynaldo Lopez, and Erick Torres, juniors Avi Salas and Gustavo Vallin, and sophomores Jace Lamkins and Reese Franzen.
The more experienced roster should give the Tigers a boost in 2019, Fremont coach Sean Murphy believes.
“Our expectation for this year is going out and competing for 80 minutes. We had opportunities last year to win a few games that a more experienced team would have won. I think that having some guys back that know what it takes to win at the Class A level is big for us,” said Murphy. “But we will need to stay mentally, as well as physically invested, the entire game.”
Murphy admitted the team took its share of hits last year taking the pitch with a young team filled with players who had never seen varsity level soccer. But he has seen improvement through the hard work the players have put in during the first weeks of practice.
“We took our lumps last year as a young team with inexperience. We still are a pretty young team this year but we have more guys coming back with varsity experience so we are excited for the season to start,” he said. “The guys have really come in and worked hard so far, being inside it is difficult but they have worked extremely hard. We have focused on the two things we can truly control, our effort and attitude and they have done an excellent job. Hopefully they will be rewarded once the season starts.”
One key player back for his senior season will be Estrada, who will return as the team’s starting striker and therefore will be looked upon to be a scorer for Fremont. Murphy raves about Estrada’s ability as not only a scorer but an all around footballer. Estrada enters the year currently fifth in school history in goals with 20 and 10th in points with 45.
“He is very talented with the ball as a scorer but also can do a lot of other things for our team. He is excellent at drawing the opposing defense his way and opening up opportunities for other guys to score,” said Murphy. “He is not going to surprise anyone this season so it will be a test for him. His sophomore year he was hurt but still had a solid year, then he had a great year last year so teams are going to be ready for him so we just want him to play his game and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.”
Murphy believes the team has several players who have the ability to score but will look to Estrada, Salas, and senior Carlos Bazan who is returning to Fremont after playing for the Tigers as a freshman before moving.
“We really have seven to eight guys that have the ability to score the ball for us at any given time,” said Murphy. “But our main guys that will likely score for us will be David, Avy, and Carlos as they will be playing at spots where you will get the most opportunities.”
Murphy has set goals for his team. On-ball pressure is a priority this season as he looks to create scoring opportunities by forcing turnovers on the opponent’s side of the pitch.
“Our big priority this year is to have immediate on-ball pressure once the opponent has the ball. We want to make sure whether the opposing team is trying to pass the ball or dribble the ball they are doing it under pressure,” he said. “Other schools mostly are set up to score on set pieces so we have to work to create our own chances to score by putting pressure on the opponent at all times.”
The Tigers will kick off their 2019 season at 10 Saturday morning at Heedum Field. Fremont will then face Omaha North or Papillion La Vista in the third-place or championship game that afternoon.