The regular season for the Olympia boys soccer team will not start until Nov. 7 — a road game at Edgewater High — but head coach Lou Romao is already all-in on this year’s squad for the Titans.
“This is the best team I’ve ever had,” Romao said confidently following a practice session Oct. 26. “I thought last year I had a great team — which I did. This year I have an excellent team. Most of these players started with me when they were freshmen.”
What that means is that the Titans, who won their first district title since 2010 this past spring, now have their sights set upon advancing beyond the regional semifinals, where they fell to Lake Mary Feb. 2.
“It was a step forward for us,” Romao said, reflecting on last season’s campaign. “We were hoping to go to states and I really thought we were good enough — but we were young, also. … I think we used it as a learning curve.”
Romao’s roster includes nine returning starters from last year’s team and it’s safe to say that the success that unit had has whet the appetites of seniors such as Nicolas de la Portilla.
“We definitely learned that to go far you have to come together as a team,” de la Portilla said. “The most important thing we learned is we have to work hard together.”
“We definitely learned that to go far you have to come together as a team."
Nicolas de la Portilla
From a technical standpoint, Romao said fans can expect a similar approach to what worked for a team last season anchored by its defense — a unit that allowed just 1.2 goals per game.
“We really are all about possession,” Romao said. “I think, technically where we are as a team, they all believe (in the philosophy).”
The team also features a number of versatile players who can fill in at multiple positions, and Romao said all of his seniors are being scouted by colleges. Romao, who has put an emphasis on getting his varsity players recruited where college recruiting more traditionally goes on during club season, believes this has been instrumental to the program’s growth during his seven seasons at the helm.
“I think that the program, in itself, has changed,” Romao said. “Players now are starting to believe that they can go to the next level.”
As for the program entering the next level — and its hopes to make the Final Four for the first time in its history — the schedule for the Titans should provide an early look at where they stack up. After a busy first week that includes games at Edgewater (Nov. 7), at home against Apopka (Nov. 9) and at South Lake (Nov. 10), Olympia will play big games at rival West Orange (Nov. 14) and Winter Park (Nov. 16).
“That will show us where we stand,” Romao said.
And although it is a long road to the playoffs in January, this year’s edition of the Titans is not backing away from a clearly-stated goal.
“We’re motivated to go all the way to states,” de la Portilla said.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].