By Bob Narang
After showing well in its inaugural varsity season back in 2010, the Metea Valley boys soccer team quickly proved it would be a future program to contend with.
Last fall, however, a rising program with championship aspirations took a step back after compiling a 4-11-4 record and finishing seventh in the DuPage Valley Conference. Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson quickly realized the program needed an overhaul after numerous frustrating losses.
“We’ve run a summer camp every year, but this July is going to take a different tone,” said Robinson, who is entering his eighth season as head coach. “We took a step back as a program last year. It had little to do with our senior class, but more so that we lost our way and our culture throughout the program had changed.”
Robinson and his staff believe the three-week camp in July will set the course for the upcoming fall campaign.
“A lot of the things we’ll be doing during the three-week camp is rebuilding our culture and resetting our expectations,” Robinson said. “It’s something we thought was happening naturally, but kind of faded away.
“So it’s going to be an intense kind of reset of what we value. We competed last year, but not to the point of where we wanted to.”
The loss of six seniors from the 2016 squad, notably Connor Lang, is another cause for concern. Robinson pointed to five returning seniors – Ethan Ytterberg, Evan Lang, Jaylen Brooks, Shareef Amor and Alfonso Castillo – as the key leaders to the reloading aspect of the program.
“We talked to the seniors about what happened, our culture and rebuilding,” Robinson said. “That’s something we haven’t had to do before.
“We talked to them about what went wrong. Everyone took responsibility – myself, the players and also the coaching staff admitted how we lost our way. I’m excited for the players to show that leadership we talked about and see the rebuild.”
Off the field, Metea Valley, which has been a longtime participant in the PepsiCo Showdown, will continue their annual community service work.
“We hope to start a tradition where we go to an area elementary school and work with kids and teach soccer and other things,” Robinson said. “It gives us a nice opportunity to give back to the community and show these younger kids some successful things the older kids are doing.”
2017 Metea Valley Outlook
Coach: Josh Robinson, 8th season
Assistant coaches: Craig Tomczak, Chris Whaley
Top 5 returnees: Ethan Ytterberg, Evan Lang, Jaylen Brooks, Shareef Amor, Alfonso Castillo
2016 overall record/conference/state finish: 4-11-4 overall, 7th place in conference, lost in Class 3A regional
Best PepsiCo Showdown finish: Semifinalist in 2011