Last season, the Amundsen Vikings boys soccer team suffered a 4-1 loss in the sectional championship to the eventual state champion Mather Rangers.
For the 2012 campaign, in head coach Alex Perez’s fifth year as the man in charge, they hope to accomplish what their rivals did a season ago and represent Chicago in the state finals.
“When we played Mather (in the sectional championship), I was amazed at their talent,” Perez said. “That is the standard that Mather has put out there. For us, for Lane (Tech), Lake View, all the Public League teams. If Mather can win the state title, any city school can be successful. The bar is set high now. We can get (to the state title game) if we play well as a team and play aggressive, fast, and strong.”
The Vikings went 7-0 in conference play last season, and had a record of 13-2 overall. Despite losing 10 seniors from last year, (eight of whom were starters), Perez hopes to build off of a successful 2011 with the help of some key returning senior players such as forward/midfielder Adam Abubakar, forward Nirajan Chaudhary, defender Juan Mendoza, and midfielder/defender Marco Suarez; as well as returning junior midfielder/forward Julian Macedo.
“All five (of our returning players) are crucial to our team,” said Perez. “They got a chance to play at the state level as juniors in regionals and sectionals (last season), so they got a taste of it. They want to be back there and do well.”
Another key loss, although not through graduation, is junior midfielder/defender Victor Reynoso. Reynoso is unable to participate in play for a school team per rules of the Chicago Fire soccer team academy, for which he is currently training.
“As a sophomore last year, (Reynoso) was one of my top players,” Perez said. “I hate to lose him, but I know that the kids selected for that program are the cream of the crop. He is definitely one of those players.”
The Vikings’ season is set to begin as they host Prosser, and Perez is confident that it will be the start of something special for Amundsen.
“The approach will be the same as last season,” he said. “Last season, we won our division. That was our goal. Our goal this year is to be regional champions again; and you never know, you could see us in the sectional finals again.”