Berkley boys soccer is having a record breaking season and they’re on the brink of the postseason which is an opportunity to really prove themselves. It seems like a lot of pressure for high school athletes, but the Bears call it a privilege.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing sports,” said Berkley senior Zackary Vigliotti. “I can’t imagine having a better season than we’re having right now.”
Berkley boys soccer is the best they’ve ever been and have broken several school records. They rode an 18-game win streak this season and in early October, they were ranked first in the state and 21st in the nation.
Thanks for hosting me & my leather pants this week, @SoccerBerkley. Also, thanks for cheering me on in PKs against top-notch GK Ryan Serwa. I snuck a couple in, cheated only a few, but we can all agree that crossbar on the 1st shot was just rude. pic.twitter.com/BoG0uSTSos— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 18, 2021
“It’s not about me, me, me with any of these kids,” said Berkley head coach Steve Wloszek. He’s in his 12th year as head coach and said this is one of the most fun seasons he has been a part of. “It’s about the team, the team, the team. They just want to win.”
The team has a simple mantra this season: Pressure is a privilege. The players echoed the sentiment laid out by Wloszek and say it’s a big reason why they’ve been able to find success this year.
“Pressure is a privilege,” said Vigliotti. “Being high up in the rankings, everyone wants to come after you, but that means you have to go out there and perform. I like having the target on our back.”
“If you have the pressure, that means you’re good enough to have it,” said Jackson Swaninger. “Other teams are going to want to come out and beat you, but we just hold our own and win.”
The Bears have 12 seniors this season, 11 of which have played together since they were four-years-old. One of this team’s strengths is that they’re powered by their back line. Three of the team’s captains, all of which are seniors, are comprised of their goalie and two center defensemen. The Bears agree that perspective of the field from the back line supports a strong team leadership.
“We have strength throughout our team. There’s no weak link on our team,” said Vigliotti. “The leadership comes from the back, but that’s just because we’re seniors.”
The Bears want to continue their record-breaking season with a deep run in the playoffs. The team heads into the postseason with a 17-2-2 record. Those two losses suffered did snap their win streak, but it also served as a lesson for this team.
“Everything that we’ve done so far, it’s been crazy,” said Berkley senior Ryan Serwa. “I don’t think anyone thought this would be the case, but it’s not over yet. We still have the postseason.”
“I would’ve loved to stay undefeated, but I think it’s important that we lost because we experienced that feeling and we don’t want to feel that again,” said Vigliotti.
The Bears open the district tournament Tuesday in the semifinals against Detroit U-D Jesuit. Wloszek said it’s a tough district to get out of. Of all 468 teams in the state, three of the top ten are all in Berkley’s district. Wloszek said a run this year would be extra special.
“I don’t think we want to be complacent and accept what we have done so far as the zenith of our season,” said Wloszek. “These kids want more.