Robinson first-year head coach Jac Cicala has no shortage of experience coaching soccer in the Northern Region. Cicala, a 38-year coaching veteran, previously led the Lake Braddock boys soccer team to four AAA state titles and guided the George Mason University women’s soccer squad to a trip to the NCAA title game. After four years at Centreville, where he led the Wildcats to the Concorde District finals, Cicala has led the Rams to a 2-1-1 record to start the season.
“It was at the right time in the right place,” said Cicala, who entered Centreville with a three-year plan and ended up staying for four years to see off his seniors. “It was a good time for me to make the move.”
During his time at Lake Braddock, Cicala had two stints as an assistant at George Mason. In 1992, he took over the Patriots' program, winning NCAA National Coach of the Year honors in 1993.
“We had a good run there,” said Cicala, who left George Mason with a 139-93-22 coaching record – the best for a women’s soccer coach at the Fairfax school.
Time constraints forced Cicala to make the decision to get back into coaching high schools and Centreville presented a nice challenge for Cicala.
“I enjoyed taking Centreville because they had not done too well and getting that program somewhat resurrected to a point where they were competitive in the Northern Region, I really enjoyed that challenge,” he said. “It was a different kind of challenge. Unlike George Mason, where you can recruit the players to your program, in high school, you have what you have in the building. It’s not like you can go out and look for what your needs are.”
Last year, Cicala succeeded in taking the Wildcats to the Northern Region tournament, but lost in the first round to West Springfield.
<b>IN TAKING OVER </b>the Robinson job, Cicala found a new set of challenges.
“At Centreville, we were trying to get them competitive. At Robinson, they are competitive,” said Cicala, who hopes to get the Rams to the next level.
The Rams, who were upset by Cicala’s Wildcats in the Concorde District tournament last year, bring back senior defender Seth Goldman, senior goalkeeper Adrian Dominguez and senior forward Eli Haijar.
Cicala has already won over the Rams’ senior leadership.
“Adapting to a new coach is always going to be hard [but] he has made it a pretty smooth process,” said Dominguez, who has signed to play at the Virginia Military institute next year. “The way that he talks to the team, you just really get a sense that he knows what he is talking about.”
“It has been a lot easier than I thought," said Haijar.
It’s been Cicala’s experience that has impressed the Rams thus far.
“Anytime he sees a weakness in part of our play, he already has a drill that we can work on the next day to make sure that it is not an issue anymore,” Haijar.
As far as Cicala’s goal for this Rams squad: “They have never been able to get to the point where they are a contender to get to the state championship,” he said. “They consistently get to the regional tournament. I think that my main mission with them is getting them over that hump.”