With its third consecutive undefeated regular season, the Windermere High School JV boys soccer team continues to impress and rewrite the Wolverine history book.
“Being undefeated is more about connecting with your players,” head JV soccer coach Douglas Hernandez said. “You don’t (get to be) undefeated by yourself. You get to be undefeated with a group — a family. A family works together all the time; I work like a father for (my players).”
Hernandez has been the head JV coach for the boys soccer team since the program’s inception in 2018 and is the only coach from that first year who still remains a member of the Wolverines family.
“It’s a good accomplishment as a coach, not losing one game in all those years,” Hernandez said. “I know that one day we are going to lose, but I am going to try to continue my legacy and not lose.”
For freshman and center man Caden Scramoncin, 15, this season was one to remember.
“Next season, whether I play JV or varsity, I want to keep another undefeated year,” he said. “I want to keep the streak going. It was really cool being part of an undefeated team.”
Part of the secret for the Wolverines’ success all these years has been the mentality component Hernandez has implemented in the Wolverines’ play style.
“It’s different when you coach club (than) when you coach high school,” he said. “In club, it depends on which level you get assigned to. In high school, everybody has a chance (to play), but I create the same mentality I had in Brazil when I was playing there. You earn your play time if you demonstrate your effort in practice. Then you are guaranteed your place in the game. If you are late to practice, then you have less play time. It’s merit-based.”
Scrimmaging against the varsity team also proved successful for the Wolverines this year, because it allowed the players more time on the field against more experienced, older opponents.
“(That helped us) learn how to play against older kids during trainings,” Scramoncin said. “Coach (Hernandez) always says keep practice intense, and we always kind of have a battle for our positioning for the next game, because we always tried to keep our position (on the field).”
Before every practice, Hernandez addresses his players and talks about what practice will consist of, lays out his expectations and conducts one-on-ones with his players to work on the psychological aspect and check in to see how they are feeling.
Hernandez believes in having his players work on the passing drill; he expects them to understand how to properly execute passing the ball during the games.
“I want my team always dominating the passing drill and then go to the game,” he said. “I don’t have anything to hide from anyone, because soccer is like everybody sees it when you play it. My game is exposed.”
For freshman striker Luiz Romualdo, 15, this year provided him an opportunity to get more play time and to play in a formation with which he was unfamiliar.
“It was really hard to make the team, but it was great,” he said. “I started being a bench player, and then took my place as a starter.”
Over the years, the Wolverines have had different opponents that have left a mark on the team. However, the team approaches each game with a win mentality and presses on until the last second of the match.
“Each game is a different story, and we need to (adapt) to play under any circumstances and situations,” Hernandez said.
Every time the team experiences a tough game, Hernandez is able to bring back his players to concentrate on their play and to give their all on the field.
“I talk about the social media with them; I tell them that they are (there) to play soccer, not to fight, not to retaliate but to get a (winning) results, because I know (they) carry a huge responsibility to stay undefeated,” Hernandez said. “To be undefeated is not everything. You can tie the game. … But, If you do much more, you would feel much better if you win this game. … I get everybody together and say, ‘Now is our time. Whatever it is, you guys will move forward from it. I know you guys and I know you will win this game.’”
The key behind Hernandez’s philosophy for his players is to always use the soccer ball to let out frustrations, demonstrate their abilities and show what the team is able to do as one.
“(We always) respond inside the field — not in social media, no fighting — only with the ball,” he said. “We can only resolve what is happening inside the sidelines here. … I am very strict on that. If people talk and one of my players talk back, that person will be out of the team.”