Classical seniors have state tournament on their minds

Classical goalie Daniel Cortes returns to the Rams for his senior season. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — The main goal for the Classical boys soccer team this season is clear: qualify for the state tournament. Classical’s seniors have yet to experience postseason soccer and with one season remaining in their respective high school careers, a tournament run is what they’re shooting for.

But before the Rams can make noise in the state tournament, they’ll have to take care of their regular season schedule first. Classical begins the season Wednesday night (7) against crosstown rival English in the Lynn Invitational Soccer Tournament at Manning Field.

“They’re very excited,” first-year Classical coach Eric Moreno said. “Everybody’s very confident. They all really want to win it. All my seniors have never won the City Tournament or qualified for the state tournament. They’re really excited about change and taking the season on.”

Moreno, a Bishop Fenwick alum who played Division III soccer at Salem State, has brought a new system to Classical. Adjustments will be made as the year takes its course, but he said things have gone well during the preseason.

“Things are looking great,” Moreno said. “The boys are coming in with high intensity. They all have high expectations. They’re looking confident out there and they’re ready for a great season, I can tell.

“It’s a lot to take in  because the system I’m bringing in is something most of them haven’t been taught before,” Moreno said. “We had a scrimmage against Tech Friday night. They need more repetition and repetition. It’s taking time but they’re already looking better than they were at this point last year. It’ll take time but we’re studying a lot.”

Classical returns three solid seniors who’ll lead the way this season as team captains in center-mid Kevin Molina, defensive-mid Ivan Melara and goalie Daniel Cortes.

“I feel they’re great role models,” Moreno said. “They’re great kids, they do great in school. They’re great role models for the other kids to look up to. They take this seriously. They’re really looking forward to the season.”

Moreno said Cortes has shown improvement in net during the preseason.

“Daniel’s very secure,” Moreno said. “He matured as a player and as a goalkeeper. It’s going to be hard to score on him. It has to be a tough shot. Anything easy, he’ll save. He’s already saved plenty of penalty kicks in practice.”

Other key returners for Classical include junior center-mid Alex Ixlaj, senior defender Ever De Leon and senior striker Gabriel Novoa. Also projected to play key roles this fall are junior striker Fernando Gomez, junior center-defender Christopher Zelaya and sophomore winger Jenner Robles.

“We have a lot of underclassmen coming in,” Moreno said. “It’s a good blend because I have to bring in the underclassmen to make sure we continue doing well next year. I’m very happy to have a lot of leadership this year.”

Part of Classical’s new system includes a more aggressive style of play on offense. As long as the team sticks together, Moreno feels confident they’ll achieve their goals and the results will follow.

“The strength will be togetherness,” Moreno said. “The guys will come together this season and play as brothers. They’re going to be a team that’s more attack-minded and more offensive rather defensive. They’re going to go out and try to win games right away.

“I think it’ll time for them to adjust but once they do the game will be simple for them,” Moreno said. “I know they’ll execute it very well because I have intelligent players.”

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