Falcons have reshaped soccer program in less than a year’s time
BEVERLY HILLS — Soon after accepting the head coaching position with the Beverly Hills Groves soccer team, Jim Stachura had a short, but very direct, conversation with someone within the program about exactly what it was he was set to inherit.
And very little was said about the four-win season of 2011.
“He told me, ‘Jim, there is a ton of talent here. It just needs to be organized properly,’” Stachura said last week before a practice at the school. “He told me that with a little direction, this could be a very good team.”
A few months later, Groves is playing like, well, a very good team.
“There’s been a resurgence here,” Stachura boasted with a laugh. “This team’s been down the past few years, but we had a lot of guys coming back, the depth was real strong, and they’ve played some good soccer so far.”
The Falcons struggled last year to just four wins all fall.
At press time, the 2012 crew was already 5-3-5 and still in contention in the Oakland Activities Association White Division with a 2-1-3 mark.
“Winning had been an afterthought here for too long,” senior Willy Thompson said. “I mean, it was cool if we won, but it’s not like we really expected it. Now we go out each game and have that expectation to compete.”
“There was a whole change in the mindset of the team,” junior Alex Lurz said. “Losing was expected around here. But we have so much talent on this team, guys that play at a high level outside of high school, so there was no reason to be playing the way we were. … (Stachura) came in with a more structured and organized approach, and it’s worked real well.”
Stachura deflected much of the praise from his guys, saying instead that it has more to do with their talent, and especially the amount of varsity veterans back in the mix.
Twelve players are back from a year ago. The roster is also comprised of seven seniors and 12 juniors, so maturity is another strength.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect coming in,” Stachura said. “But the guys hit the ground running. They needed that direction, that little bit of adjustment, and they’ve run with it.”
Though he stressed adjustments, he said much of the change catered a system to his players’ talents.
“I think it’s working pretty well,” Stachura added. “Last year, for example, we were mercied by (Auburn Hills) Avondale, and this year we lost 5-3 in a game we actually had the lead in three different times.”
It’s easy to see why there’s an abundance of confidence at Groves.
Coaches and players alike spoke of the desire to challenge for the league title.
Avondale (5-1-0) had a comfortable lead in the standings at press time, but there are still plenty of games left.
Beyond that, there is talk of contending for a district title, which will be equally difficult given teams like Birmingham Brother Rice, Birmingham Seaholm and Berkley High, among others, in the Berkley district.
“The talent’s here to do it, though,” Lurz said with a smile. “This is one of the best team’s I’ve ever been on, and when we’re playing our game, we’re a tough team to beat.”