Boys soccer looks to bounce back from last season’s upset


Emilia Weinrobe

Senior Chase Palmer scans the field in the Knights’ scrimmage against Heritage on Friday, Jan. 21. The Knights won 5-0.

Farris Duwayri

The boys soccer team is looking to rebound this year after its loss in the first round of playoffs last year, despite challenges.

One of the biggest issues the team faces is the change in scheduling from last year to this year. The Georgia High School Association started the soccer schedule one week earlier.

“It’s created a lot of problems scheduling-wise,” head coach Jaime Benedetti said. “There’s a lot more overlap in spring sports, [and] spring break falls the week before the playoffs.”

Benedetti said coaches around the state didn’t like the schedule and tried to protest.

“It’s unfortunate because I think most of the state coaches wrote to them [GHSA],” Benedetti said. “They all signed a petition, and [the GHSA] just kind of ignored it and kept the schedule as is.”

Despite taking precautions such as wearing masks inside the building and those who could be contagious quarantining, the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases presents another issue to the team. 

“It’s pretty regular that I’ll get a call or text from a player, and they say, ‘Hey coach, I was exposed. I’m out for the next however many days,’” Benedetti said. “It definitely adds uncertainty.”

Covid-19 also exacerbated the scheduling issue when the school district decided to make the first week back from the semester break virtual. This suspended all sports for that week, including soccer tryouts.

“Unfortunately, it set us back,” Benedetti said. “We’re really just trying to recover. We don’t really have that much time to train because once the season starts, we have practices, but we can’t practice hard. The players who play a full game can’t be training hard, or they’re not going to have recovered in time for the next game.”

This delay has caused the preseason training period to be shortened. 

“Those first two or three weeks of the season are really important,” Benedetti said. “That’s the only real training we have as a team.”

Nevertheless, the team is looking to bounce back this year after a disappointing loss to Cass High School last year in the first round of the playoffs.

“We need to redeem ourselves for last year,” senior winger Peter Haynes said. “I hope that we get far into the playoffs this season.”

The players share a common goal of advancing to the state championship. 

“As a team, we all want to make it through the playoffs and show what Midtown soccer is all about,” junior fullback Zach Spangler said.

Although some players were lost to graduation, the team remains full of upperclassmen.

“That senior class was actually a lot smaller than average,” Benedetti said. “We actually have more seniors this year so we have a lot of players that were juniors that are seniors this year. Just broadly speaking, we’ve got a much more mature team.”

The players are putting their full trust into Benedetti, who played Division I soccer in college for Georgia State University and the University of Dayton.

“Coach Jaime is a solid coach who knows a lot about the game; so, he can teach us a lot,” Spangler said.

Bendetti is confident in the abilities of his team. 

“I think this team is very capable of winning the region,” Bendetti said. “I think we definitely could make a deep playoff run as well.”