Thomas Jefferson boys soccer coach Dave Hanson is still an old-school coach at heart.
Hanson opened his 12th season with the Raiders on Tuesday, but his game plan, which has helped bring the school numerous league championships and a state championship in 2013, is still done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.
After Jefferson’s 1-0 loss to the Mount Rainier Rams to lead off the new season, Hanson pulled a crinkled piece of paper out from his left pocket. On one side was his official roster. On the other was a list of five keys for success he expected to see over the course of the previous 80 minutes.
The second item on the list read: “Keep space in corners.” Mount Rainier’s lone goal came off a corner kick in the 36th minute. The corner was kicked into the box by Rams captain Austin McGlothern, and the ball caromed off two Raider players before Michael Fikadu lunged in and sent a header into the net.
“Discipline,” Hanson said afterward. “I had a team that showed up a half hour too late. Discipline. For a team that’s loaded with seniors, we sure didn’t play like it.”
Hanson’s had to deal with drastic, last-minute roster changes the old-school way, too.
“Next man up,” he said.
Hanson is without Jefferson captain Ibrahim Yusuf and defender Edward Yu for the first couple games. The two just finished playing in club tournaments in Las Vegas.
Jefferson is also without its primary goal scorer, forward Diego Pineda-Topete. The senior broke his leg two days into team tryouts, and he’ll spend the next 12 weeks in a cast.
Without their key pieces against Mount Rainier, the Raiders struggled in the back four, as well as with list items three and four: “(No) stabbing at the ball in the defensive third,” and “no stopping and watching.”
Jefferson’s inexperience in the back forced it to do both. The Rams were able to get six shots on target at Raiders first-year goalkeeper Alfred-Amir Ra’oof.
“Once I’m able to get my back line back, it does change us a little,” Hanson said. “It [makes] us a little more dynamic, but we really have some work to do.”
That “work” is defined in item five: “Change up the formation.”
Hanson said, because of the injuries and ineligible players, Jefferson is still trying to figure out the formation that best fits with what Hanson has to work.
At kickoff, the Raiders were set in the 4-2-3-1, but with its best striker on the injured list, the formation only yielded turnovers and free kicks for Mount Rainier, which list item one said to avoid.
At the 20-minute mark, the Raiders switched to a 4-4-2 formation, and they seem to be far more comfortable in that formation. It allowed Jefferson to earn four corner kicks and three shots on target over the course of the game.
“We’re still sorting what’s going to work best for us,” Hanson said. “We showed we can transition, but we lack the goal scorers right now. We have to find one.”
The Raiders may have found one in junior forward Hector Duran, however.
Duran came on in the 15th minute, and his presence changed Jefferson’s attack plan immediately. He had a shot on target in the 30th minute that went wide. He attempted to set up midfielder Angel Bautista for a goal in the 43rd minute after sending a through ball into the box, but Bautista couldn’t make the run in time.
“I got good kids here, but they just have a ways to go” Hanson said.
As a part of his old-school mentality, Hanson is conditioned to welcoming the fight to overcome adversity.
After the game, he looked directly at his players and told them their dysfunction on the pitch broke the team’s golden rule of maintaining discipline for all 80 minutes, but players weren’t having it.
They fought back, saying they didn’t display dysfunction. When asked about the players’ retort, Hanson smiled. He took back his piece of paper, wrote something down, and gave it back to them.
Hanson wrote down the only response an old-school coach like himself knows: “Don’t tell me. Show me.”
“I think we’re going to have to fight to get into the playoffs, but the golden rule here is discipline, and we didn’t show any,” Hanson said. “This isn’t about any one of them. It’s about this program. Oh, they’ll get something out of this game, I’ll tell you that.”