Pelham excited and prepared to make another deep run in 2024

Published 1:28 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

By BRENNA VICKERY | Special to the Reporter

Pelham High School athletics would not be complete without its elite soccer programs. The varsity boys team has racked up eight consecutive playoff appearances including an impressive state runner-up finish in 2022.

With a senior class of 13 players, the Pelham boys soccer team is on track for another great year.

Among the senior class are captains Raul Jacobo and Matthew Chaux. Both players have years of varsity experience and are looking forward to filling leadership roles this season.

Chaux expressed his positive mindset for the season.

“I’m excited to be a role model and lead by example for our younger players,” Chaux said. “My main goal is to help our players see they have what it takes to be successful.”

The Panthers are out to prove themselves after losing in the round of 16 to McAdory in 2023, which later self-reported ineligible club players and forfeited their quarterfinals game to Calera.

Many Pelham players and coaches believe it should have been them in the Final 4 last season and want to make another deep run this year.

However, the team will face impressive competition.

While the Panthers are ranked No. 5 in the preseason rankings, area opponents Briarwood and Indian Springs are right behind it.

Pelham will have just three starters back from their 2023 squad, they will lean on their seniors to guide the way as nine of them have been with the program since they were in middle school. Conner McDonald is one of those seniors who will play a key leadership role.

In addition, the coaching staff is confident in players like Johan Favero to be potential breakout players this season, Elder Esquivel to push the tempo in midfield and Jacobo to provide a solid presence in goal after receiving All-State First Team honors in 2023.

The team spent its off-season on the field and in the classroom focusing on perfecting the intricacies of their game-play.

Head Coach Patrick McDonald said the team was thorough in its preparation for the upcoming season.

“We train and then reflect on the session with the team, sometimes in the classroom with video analysis and sometimes on the pitch with walk-throughs,” coach McDonald said.

The coaches and players are working on new attacking and defense elements to create a more “dynamic” style of play.

Despite participating in a competitive area, Pelham’s 2024 soccer team expects to have another successful season and will have a chance to follow in the footsteps of the many successful teams leading up to this one as it aims for the postseason.