Building Blocks: Sunnyvale soccer prepares for jump to UIL in 2014
The Sunnyvale soccer team does not currently play official games, but don't tell them that.
Although the Raiders are still two years removed from joining a University Interscholastic League district, they are taking every match just as seriously as if they were playing for a district championship.
"These guys have a lot of pride, and we've played some pretty good teams and we have held our own," Sunnyvale head coach Kenny Duck said. "They understand that we are building a program."
There are not many 2A schools that field soccer teams, which is one reason they decided to wait until 2014, when they will likely join a district made up of 2A and 3A programs.
But the Raiders are already proving themselves. They battled 5A Mesquite's junior varsity to a close, 2-0 draw in the season opener, picked up a 7-0 win against Dallas Life and fought Princeton, a solid 3A team, to a 1-1 draw.
Sunnyvale will get additional tests against junior varsity teams from 4A powers Poteet on Friday and West Mesquite on Tuesday.
"Our kids want to put the school on the map and I think we have already started to do that by the way we have been able to take on some of these bigger schools," Duck said.
Aside from the different schedule, Sunnyvale faces the same issues that any other team does. The Raiders had a senior-laden team last season that was able to enjoy some quick success, including finishing fourth at a tournament.
But with graduation has come a number of new faces. That younger group has leaned on a small group of seniors that includes Ryan Moss and Tyler Gooch.
"They have really stepped up and done a great job," Duck said. "Their effort, their leadership has just been great."
Duck, a former coach at North Mesquite, is in his second year at Sunnyvale and the opportunity to build a program was one of the big lures of the position.
While the numbers have fluctuated, the Raiders do have enough players on the roster if it were an official season now, and they expect to grow in the next two years. That holds true on the female side, as well, where there has been a lot of interest and Duck said they might start looking for a girls coach as soon as next year.
The Sunnyvale athletic program as a whole is still a young one. Many of the teams starting playing official varsity games in 2009 and they have experienced early success, as the volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball teams have all made repeated playoff apperances, and the football team is on the cusp.
Seeing that success has only provided further motivation for the soccer program, which is waiting patiently for its opportunity to shine.
"Across the board, we want every program to represent the school in a positive way," Duck said. "There are a lot of things we are trying to do to create a tradition, winning district championships, making the playoffs. Other teams have done that and our kids have bought into it. They have the attitudes that they are going to go out and succeed."