ROSEVILLE — Roseville High boys soccer coach Rick Meyer, who joins the team after coaching the Panthers’ girls soccer squad, is working with a much different roster than the one Roseville fielded last season.
In 2012, the Panthers’ boys soccer team featured 16 players — 13 of whom were seniors. The team went 14-4-3, 10-1-1 in the MAC Gold and has its best season since going 14-5-4 in 2006.
Meyer’s squad is the polar opposite. The 2013 incarnation of the Panthers does have 16 players, but only two are seniors. Meyer, who played under former Roseville coach Ron Baller, runs a similar system and said his team is learning every day.
“We had to pull up a lot of players who might normally be on (the JV team), but with the loss of 13 players, they had to be brought up,” said Meyer, whose team sat at 1-3-0 at press time.
“They’re getting better — learning the system and learning how to play together, and a lot of the mistakes we’ve made, we’re learning from them, too.”
Meyer said the three players who were on the varsity team in 2012 are doing everything they can to help the younger players learn the game. He named all three — senior midfielder Zack Thompson, senior forward Mark Koliba and junior defenseman Josh Rolder — captains for the season.
“They’re already stepping up and being leaders,” Meyer said. “They want to help the team. They know that, with the inexperience we have, it could be a rough year, but they’re doing what they can to help us be successful.”
Meyer said it does help him somewhat having virtually a brand new roster. He said the players are excited to have a chance to play on a varsity team. Meyer said the inexperienced players understand the pace of the game is faster, too, but they’re ready to learn.
One of those newer players is sophomore goalkeeper John Reardon, who also plays baseball and is a first-year soccer player. Meyer said the sophomore netminder uses some of his baseball skills to help the soccer team on the field.
“He uses that hand-eye coordination when he’s in the net,” Meyer said. “That’s already come into play and paid some dividends. We feel confident in him making some saves. He’s made some pretty big saves already.”
Reardon said he sees his teammates learning and getting more acclimated to the varsity game. He said the group has the mentality that it wants to get better every day.
Meyer said he wants his team to attack and be proactive instead of reactive. He said he wants the squad to keep that mentality, even if it leads to mistakes on defense.
“But we don’t want to give up pressure,” Meyer said. “We want to keep the pressure on (opposing teams) and keep them out of our zone.”
Reardon said he takes a long-term view when looking at the makeup of the roster. He said he knows Roseville will have a great team when this current group gains more experience.
Meyer said he sees this season as a chance to teach players the game.
“Our goal is to try to go .500 in league play, learn the MAC Gold and compete,” Meyer said. “We want to improve over the course of the season. Some of the teams we’ve played and lost to, we want to beat them later in the season.”
Roseville next takes the field for a matchup against St. Clair High, set for 6 p.m. Sept. 18 at St. Clair.