There were some questions heading into Jesuit's soccer season, namely the loss of 15 seniors to graduation.
No need to question.
The Tigers began the season with as many as seven underclassmen in the starting lineup and promptly jumped to an 8-1 record – its only loss a 3-1 setback to Cape Coral Mariner, yet another game coach Bob Bauman thought his team should have won.
"That was the only game we really got off to a slow start," Bauman said. "The rest of the time I'd say we've played pretty well."
Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that on most nights four sophomores start and sometimes more than four sophomores are on the field at the same time. Four sophomores, in fact, had 10 or more points through nine games.
Leading the way for the sophomores is Eric Mubang, who had six goals and two assists through nine games. Mubang, in fact, is one of the main sparkplugs with senior Brett Durrance, who had a string of four consecutive games with at least two goals.
"I think we may showing even a little more speed than we showed last year," Bauman said.
The only downside, Bauman said, has been a tendency to bury relatively easy shots in the net. Time and again, even through last season, the Tigers had trouble "finishing," sending too many shots high and wide. Against Mariner, for instance, Jesuit led 18-8 in shots, but lost the game.
"It's something that can drive you crazy," Bauman said. "We've made a conscious effort to getting better at finishing.
"It's a mentality, it's a mindset. We've taken shots over and over and over again, getting the repetition down. You have to be technically sound and we've focused on that."
For the first time in almost 20 years, Jesuit will not be playing in a local Christmas tournament, mostly because the Tigers release date for the holidays conflicts with the holiday tournament schedules. The trip to Arizona for another tournament after Christmas also fell through because of logistical conflicts.
Bauman said his team will take the time to rest up and get ready for the push toward a state title in 2012.
"It's something new, so we'll see how it goes," said Bauman, who did schedule the Monteverde Invitational in Clermont in mid January. "Maybe the rest will help us."