Eric Obman is enough of a realist to know that his Schenectady girls’ soccer team is not going to compete for a Class AA championship.
He’s satisfied with the smaller steps that will help the program grow.
“If they come and they work hard, that’s all we ask of them,” said Obman, who was encouraged by the number of players who showed up for the first day of practice.
“The numbers are good,” Obman said. “We’re at the point where we’re not going to cut anybody, but we have enough numbers for two decent-sized [JV and varsity] teams.”
Scheduling has always been a problem for Obman, whose team went 0-8 in the Big 10 last year. He had to pick up teams to play to fill out his 16-team schedule, with the Lady Patriots playing teams from a variety of enrollments.
“Usually, we’re struggling going into the season, looking for games,” Obman said. “This year, I had a couple of schools coming back to me wanting games.
“We picked up one with Scotia. That will be a tough game for us, but that’s OK.”
Obman has acquired one ally in his quest to fill up the 16-game regular-season schedule.
“Mike McLaughlin, the coach at Lake George, and I have established a great relationship that we’ll play each other year and year, home and home,” said Obman. “It’s a long bus ride, but it’s two games.”
Though the Big 10 disbanded during the spring, Obman has kept his former league rivals — Albany, Troy and Catholic Central — on the schedule.
“I haven’t even spoken about it yet,” Obman said of not being able to set winning the league title as a goal. “The way I look at is I hope they’re here because they love playing soccer. We don’t have a league title to play for, but we have a schedule, and the girls want to play.”
Obman brought a trio of talented players to the varsity when they were freshmen. Now, he’s counting on Nisa Cortes, Samantha Suriano and Kendra Arcos to help his inexperienced players.
“I had the three freshmen I pulled up together that year, and now they’re seniors. They’ll all be good leaders,” Obman said.
“It’s hard, because we mix in a few kids who play with elite clubs and some who don’t play year-round, they just come out to play a varsity sport.
“The older kids have been phenomenal. Nisa is my captain, and she’s been really great about working with the younger kids. She’s going to have a good year.”
What should help, if not this year, then soon, is the influx of younger players to the varsity level.
“We had a very small senior class last year, and we’ll have fairly small senior class this year,” Obman said. “We have some strong freshmen coming back. We had two undefeated seasons in a row at the modified level.
“The kids coming up will hopefully reflect that.”
The new faces made Obman’s decision to keep coaching easier after he had resigned his position.
“I had resigned during the offseason, but they asked me to come back,” he said. “I’ve got four kids, and I knew we were going to be moving this summer. But I like these kids, and that makes it easier.
“The kids have been really good. They show up, they work hard, their grades are great.
“Every year, whether we end up with a good record or not so good a record, we look at getting from point A to point B. It’s about making progress.”