text & photo by David Gao ‘23
Big Red Sports Reporter David Gao ’23 recently caught up with Brian Daniell and Joaquin Gonzalez, coaches of Lawrenceville’s Second Form boys’ soccer team, to learn more about this year’s squad.
David Gao: What are some of the strengths that you have observed in the team so far this season? What are some of the challenges?
Brian Daniell: Strengths, I would say, are the fact that when the kids are first arriving to school, they are very excited to be a part of the team. They’re getting to know a lot of new people. So I think the enthusiasm on the field is terrific. We have a lot of players on the roster, but everybody has some experience.
Joaquin Gonzalez: Yeah. I would agree that we have a lot of players with a lot of experience, which doesn't happen every year. Speaking of challenges, one of the problems we have had is we had the bunch of games that were canceled at the beginning of the season, and I think that hasn't given us the experience that we should have at this point.
DG: What are the areas that the team could improve on? What are some goals that you would like to team to work on?
BD: Every year in the last 30 years of coaching, we carry the ball too much. We don’t move the ball quickly enough. Ideally, we'd work on two-touch soccer, where you receive with one touch and you play with the next, and then the ball moves more quickly and the whole game speeds up. So we tend to not have that confidence in our first touch, and dribble too much. I wouldn't call it a weakness; it just needs to be developed more. Many of the teams we play are day schools, and they have an opportunity over the summer to play with each other. We don't yet have the ability to anticipate what our teammates are going to do, even with individuals that typically make certain runs and so on. We haven't become familiar enough with one another yet.
JG: What I would say is the lack of experience that we have in competition so far. To reiterate what Coach Daniell said, many of these kids are now making the transition to having experience with soccer, but not knowing how to play at a different level: the two touch, the strategy, how to work as a team. We need to work on that.
DG: How do you feel your team has been able cooperate this year, given that most of them are new to one another?
BD: It is always a learning process. Coach Gonzalez and I are insistent that we be the critics and they be the supporters. We don't want the players coaching one another, or a barking at one another. I think that's something that we'll do better as the year progresses and the kids begin to understand.
JG: We try to bring cohesion to the team, but we already have a lot of that because all of these kids are in the same House and they see each other in the same classes. They are developing good group dynamics already. We just need to, sort of, supervise that a little bit. But, it’s a good group of kids in there and they get along well.
BD: That's what we’re trying to emphasize: leadership comes through specific instruction. If you really want to get something done, the way to do it is probably to speak to somebody privately about a change you'd like to see, rather than yell at them for the failure to do it, so that you give them a positive option. Rather than “Don't do that! Don't do that!” it is “Make sure you do this...”
DG: What are some memorable experiences/highlights that you would like to mention so far this season?
JG: Well, we had a pretty bad loss against St. Benedicts, which was expected. I'm not going to say the score, but the highlight of that game for me is how well we were able to lose with dignity. We worked hard until the last minute with a lot of enthusiasm, despite what we had against us. So I think that that would be a highlight for me through the competitions so far, that we have known how to be good sports.
DG: If you were to describe the team atmosphere in three words, what would they be?
BD: Fun, developing, and cohesive.
JG: I agree.
DG: How do you guide the Second Form boys through practices/games? How would you describe your relationship with the players?
BD: I think Coach Gonzalez and I work well together. I don't think we have the same personality. We're good friends, and both of us share a joy of being with young people and a sense of humor. I tend to be a little more authoritative. I'm kind of the yeller between us and Coach Gonzalez is more of the personal sort of coach.
JG: I enjoy working with Coach Daniell very much. I think we compliment each other very well. I think one thing that brings us together is our love of the sport, our love of teaching, and our sense of humor. And I've learned a lot through him, like when you're coaching, you have to be able to laugh and crack up a few jokes if you want this to be fun for the kids.
DG: Is there anything else you would like to add?
BD: This is the best two months of the year for me. To be out here in the fall, the weather's great, the kids are new to the school, and they're having fun with each other; We get to be a part of it. What we give to the kids, I think, is more reciprocal. We gain as much as they do. Between Coach Gonzalez and I, we've been doing this for, 50 years? No, more than that.
JG: We don't want to say.
BD: But every year coming out is equally exciting and fun.
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