The Carroll boys soccer team muscled its way into the playoffs last season based largely on the strength of five district shutouts and a stout defensive effort.
A big part of that effort came in the form of keeper Patrick Leal, who earned second team all-district honors for his effort.
Coach Greg Oglesby said that Leal has been stalwart for the Dragons in goal and said that the Carroll senior brings a lot to the table.
“This will be his third year on varsity,” Oglesby said. “He's very composed, and a very calming influence back there on defense. He is a very technical player and he is a very smart player.”
Leal held district opponents to a total of 1.14 goals per game in the district season in 2014, and Oglesby said during the off season, he wants Leal to keep in shape and keep practicing – and that’s about it.
“There's not much,” Oglesby said. “I want him to keep playing. He's training with his club team. Earlier in his career, he probably needed to be more vocal, but that is no longer an issue. As a matter of fact, one of his strengths is the ability to organize the back four in front of him.”
Given the nature of Leal's position and the fact that he will be a senior this season, Oglesby said he will rely on him a lot to provide leadership for the Dragons this season, along with keeping opponents’ scoring down.
“If we can notch shutouts or give up just one goal per game, you are in every game,” Oglesby said. “He has the ability to keep us in games all by himself, which is huge.”
Carroll advanced to the bi-district round of the playoffs last season before losing to Arlington, and Oglesby said in order to pick up where it left off last season, Leal will need to have a strong season.
“When you have the ability to keep the team in games all by yourself, that is huge,” Oglesby said. “You don't lose when that happens. We may tie, but we're not going to lose. He has the ability to do that, game in and game out. He not only makes the saves that she should make, but he comes up with the special saves once or twice or game.
“It's a real emotional boost for the team to know that their should be some for sure goals going int during a game, but not with Patrick back there,” Oglesby added.