Coming off the heels of last season’s wildly successful campaign, Lehman High boys soccer head coach Rene Medina didn’t waste time in wiping the slate clean.
With only three lettermen returning from last season’s 25-6A district title winning squad, Medina made sure his players knew the size shoes they’d need to fill as they head into 2020.
By instilling a mantra of “compete every day,” Medina aims to prepare a young crop of Lobos for the chance to defend their district crown.
“We told the guys they have questions to answer, roles to fit into and shoes to fill,” Medina said. “What we’ve seen is a group of guys who have come together. Lately it’s been energetic. They’ve are ready to get after it.”
Leading the way for Lehman are returning seniors Isaac Salazar and Edwin Beltran whose experience will be called upon this season. Medina said both players show “championship habits” both on and off the field, which is something he hopes younger players look up to. Lobo Luis Rodriguez, who saw limited playing time last season, is also expected to see significant minutes in 2020.
“They have a desire and the self-motivation to go out there and try to do the best they can,” Medina said.
Behind them, however, is a group that consists mostly of underclassmen. Freshman Adrian Perez and sophomore Emilio Bartolo are two players Medina said could make a difference this season.
While youth does bring about some change from a tactical standpoint, Medina said the Lobos plan to keep the same defensive-minded strategy on the table.
“It does change a little based on the personnel we now have. But the way we play and the way the program wants to look is on the kids buying into that,” Medina said.
All of this comes as Lehman shoulders a sizeable target on its back in 2020. Perennial powers Lake Travis, Westlake, Bowie and Del Valle are slated to contend for the district title, while teams such as Hays, Anderson and Akins all gained valuable experience.
Lehman suffered the largest hit by losing 17 players to graduation this past summer.
“You can’t take a night off (in this district). All teams are solid and all of the teams are good,” Medina said.
But at the same time, the Lobos have dealt with life as the hunted in 25-6A ever since last spring, Medina said. It’s a feeling Medina, his staff and players all relish.
“It’s been a big theme since last spring. We’ve let the guys.know we have a big target on our back,” Medina said. “We have to adjust accordingly and have those daily habits and routines of a championship winning program.”
Lehman opens the season at home against Corpus Christi Winn in the first round of the Rebel Cup held Jan. 1-3.