Holy Trinity boys determined to make deep playoff run


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Members of the Holy Trinity boys soccer team play a passing game during a recent practice. With 12 seniors on this year's roster, the team has the experience and the drive to go far. Photo by Carl Kotala

It’s safe to say Holy Trinity boys soccer coach James Phillips won’t have to worry about motivating his players this season.

“I think they’re fired up for this year, that’s for sure,” Phillips laughed.

That’s what happens when you have a large group of seniors who remember winning their second straight district title last year and then losing in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals to Lakeland Christian.

“We didn’t think we were going to lose then,” senior goalkeeper Ricky Berthiaume said. “We thought we were going to go a lot farther. We just couldn’t get it done in that game, didn’t go in with the right mindset. We’re hoping to make that right this year.”

The Tigers have done a lot of team bonding in preparation for this season. They’ve also toughened their schedule, playing preseason games against some of the top teams in the state — West Shore and Montverde Academy.

They also scored a huge early-season district win against The Pine School.

But that’s not all.

Last year’s top scorer, sophomore Carlo Campanini, has been moved to defender.

“At the end of the day, in the playoffs, we never had a problem scoring,” Phillips said. “We were letting in too many goals. So he’s been moved back there to tighten up our defense a little bit.”

That should make it even tougher for teams to get past the Tigers' defense, particularly with Berthiaume in goal. In those two games against West Shore and Montverde Academy, the Tigers gave up just one goal.

“He was the main reason,” Phillips said of Berthiaume. “He was unbelievable. If he can carry that form through, we’ll be in good shape.”

Other key players this season include co-captain Noah Benjamin and twin brothers Jore Oni (forward) and Joye Oni (defender).

The Tigers have also added a pair of foreign exchange students who should really help in forward Bryan Cha from Korea and midfielder Nico Rousseau from Chile.

Then there is central midfielder Luca Campanini, whom Berthiaume described as “probably our best player in the midfield. He really runs it, keeps the tempo. He can score. He can pass. He can do it all in there — defend, wins headers and makes hard challenges.”

Phillips said he has noticed a different attitude about his players this year, particularly from 12 highly motivated seniors.

Of course, the Tigers want to win their third district title. But they have bigger plans than that. They want to go all the way to the state championship game. And they believe they know the kind of mindset it will take.

“We’ve got to push through, really,” Berthiaume said. “If we think we’re the better team, and we go down, we’ve got to learn how to come back from it. We need to learn how to roll with the punches, take some hits and get back up and keep going together.

“We can’t just rely on a couple of people to pull us out of the hole when we’re in it.”

With a tougher schedule — the toughest they’ve ever had, Phillips said — and their own determination, this group of Tigers should be more ready for the postseason than they’ve ever been.

Most importantly, they’re not just in it for themselves. They want to do it together. And that can be a difference maker.

“We’re looking to stay together, get the best out of each other as a team,” Berthiaume said. “We’re not worried about going undefeated in the regular season. We’re just worrying about getting the result when it matters and getting each other ready for whatever happens.”