As the Windsor High School boys soccer team prepares for the beginning of what could be a deep run into the Class 4A state playoffs later this week, one thing remains clear — it has been a season to remember.
The Wizards (13-1-1) came into the season not sure of what to expect while hoping the team would fall into place.
The team went on a 12-game winning streak thanks to an offense that was on the ball from the beginning and a defensive that was able to hold its own deep into games. After tying Greeley Central and dropping its only game of the season to Longmont, the Wizards bounced back Wednesday with a win against Skyline to wrap up the regular season and regain momentum moving into the playoffs.
“We just have good, hard-working boys,” said Wizards head coach Phil Weiser. “I think that’s been the formula. They work hard and they listen and when they get on the field, they play hard. There’s no secret to it really. They’ve earned those wins.”
Though not necessarily secrets, even Weiser recognized much of the team’s success in the 13-win season can be attributed to hard working and skillful seniors Brandon Lind and Alejandro Mendoza, who have scored more than 30 of the team’s goals this season between them. Lind alone accounted for four goals himself during the team’s recent 9-1 rout against Berthoud.
“They set the tone every day at practice,” Weiser said.
That was apparent while watching the team take to the field for practice ahead of Wednesday’s battle with Skyline. The team functioned like a well-oiled machine, calling plays and crashing the net relentlessly late into the afternoon.
Lind (10 goals, 1 assist for 21 points) and Mendoza (17 goals, 7 assists for 41 points) have each played soccer in the Windsor area for 14 years — something they both explained as a vital part of daily life in addition to the rigors of classwork and the demands of pre-college planning.
“I’ve just been having fun,” Lind said.
Though his fun was cut short with a knee injury last week, he said soccer always has been and will continue to be “an escape.”
Lind, 17, said he plans to study chemical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines. Joining the school’s soccer team, he said, would be a huge step.
Likewise, Mendoza, 18, is jumping at the chance to potentially study mechanical engineering at Cornell University next year.
But before higher education can come into play, the duo is prepping for a chance to lead the team deep into the playoffs.
“We need to get used to hunkering down and making the most of the chances we do get,” Mendoza said, who noted that scoring chances have decreased substantially as the season progressed. “It’s really tough to play that way.”
When asked what the highlight of playing varsity soccer for four years was, Lind and Mendoza paused before agreeing that it was about playing under the lights late into the fall evenings.
Adding that the team’s one loss on the season “left a bad taste in my mouth,” Mendoza said the spirit of the team has been recharged ahead of the 32-team bracketed playoff race, slated to kick off Thursday.
Lind agreed, and despite the unknowns of the knee injury, he remained optimistic of the team’s chances moving forward.
“It’s been a good run so far,” Lind said. “It’s all going to come down to if we’re able to stay focused.”