There is no room on coach Bo Amato’s Langley High boys’ soccer team for individual grandstanding or selfish play. It is all about the `team’ in Amato’s perspective. With that in mind, it is safe to say that the renowned soccer lifer, whose roots in the game come from his native England, loves what he has in this year’s Saxons.
“Our teams the past two years didn’t have enough heart,” said Amato, rarely afraid to speak his mind. “When it required a certain amount of effort, it wasn’t there. [This year] I don’t have any egos on my team. We’re pretty deep [depth wise] – not deep with superstars, but with athletes and kids who can play decent soccer. It’s a pretty good group of kids who play well and get along. At the end of the day, you always need your teammates.”
Langley, which has qualified for the 16-team Northern Region playoffs each of the past two years under Amato, has played terrific soccer this spring. The 6-0 Saxons are looking to continue to improve over the latter half of the season in hopes of ultimately going deep into postseason play at both the Liberty District and regional tournaments.
The Saxons have had good squads the last two years but saw their seasons end with first round region playoff losses to T.C. Williams two years ago and Robinson last spring.
Langley is working and building for better late season success this season.
“It would be real sad for this team not to get to regionals,” said Amato. “Once there we have as good a chance as anyone to [ultimately] win a state title.”
If Langley continues to play defense the way it has over the first six games, anything is possible in regards to future playoff success. The Saxons earned their fourth consecutive shutout win last Friday night, April 16 with a 2-0 triumph over non-district host Chantilly. Langley, in the win, got goals from junior midfielder Dylan Price (6 goals for the season) and senior midfielder Roshan Patel.
In its prior three games before playing the Chargers, Langley won games in shutout fashion at Lee, 3-0, on March 25, at Madison, 3-0, on April 8, and at home versus visiting Fairfax, 5-0, on April 12. Jan Gundersen, a senior forward, scored two goals in the win over Fairfax.
To start the spring season, the Saxons had won home games over both Stuart on March 19 and South Lakes on March 23, both by 3-1 scores.
So Langley, which was scheduled to play games this week against visiting Hayfield on Tuesday, April 20 and at Marshall on Thursday, April 22, had allowed just the two goals over its first six games.
“Everybody’s working hard on defense,” said Amato. “I raise my hat to the work ethic and desire to do well. Even with the substitutes, the boys desire to do well.”
Amato is pleased with the goalie play the Saxons have received from both Jay Lupas, a 6-foot-4 inch junior, and Ray Walls, a senior.
“I’m very happy with both,” said Amato. “We’re very fortunate. I think they’re both outstanding. One has something over the other.”
Then, with a chuckle, the coach said, “If you combined the two you might not give up a goal all year.”
<b>AMATO</b>, who serves as technical director of the Annandale Boys and Girls Club soccer program and also coaches the boys’ under-16 Annandale United (reigning Virginia Cup champion) , credited Langley’s solid, timely passing with being one key to the team’s offensive scoring prowess (19 goals going into this week).
“The kids are buying into passing the ball at the right point of the field,” said Amato. “Most of my starting players play on travel soccer teams.”
Langley is led by tri-captains Roshan Patel, Dylan Price and junior midfielder Farhan Khan.
“I think they’ve been exceptional,” said Amato, of the three leaders.
Amato said he has been fortunate to have an outstanding assistant coach – Rahul Chaudhry – by his side.
“He really loves it,” said Amato, of his right hand man. “He’s a good guy, level headed and very successful.”
Chaudhry’s son, also named Rahul, played under Amato at Langley and is now a member of the James Madison University men’s soccer team.
Amato said one of the fascinating aspects of soccer is that there is no guarantee the best team will leave the field victorious.
“The game of football is probably the only game where you can be the best team and still not win,” he said. “You can shoot all day long and still not score.”
Members of this year’s Langley team are: junior defender Laust Andersen, junior defender Alex B., junior midfielder Michael Beza, junior defender Nate Bremer, junior defender Jeff C., sophomore midfielder Oliver D., junior forward Josh Ellis, senior midfielder Dan Flitcroft, senior forward Jan Gundersen, junior defender Patrick Haddad, senior defender Elling Hantho, sophomore defender Rhys Howard, junior defender Brian Jaffe, junior midfielder Nima Kassiri, junior midfielder Farhan Khan, junior goalie Jay Lupas, senior midfielder Roshan Patel, senior defender Teddy Petersen, junior midfielder Dylan Price, junior defender Spenser Thompson, senior midfielder Alex Voorhees, senior goalie Ray Walls, junior defender Sam Walsh, senior forward Joe Young and junior midfielder Thomas Zumot.