Third-year coach expects to see more progress

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Socorro boys’ soccer Head Coach Dennis Walsh has watched many of his players take the field since they were just kids.

Anthony Welch — El Defensor Chieftain: Senior Alejandro Gomez kicks the ball away from junior goalkeeper Dennis Woods during practice on Tuesday.

He coached many of his seniors when they were 7 or 8 years old, and he’s thrilled to see them still loving the game of soccer.

“It all starts with the youth program,” he said. “The kids have played together for so many years.

The third-year coach is hoping that chemistry will aid the Warriors in improving on last season’s overall record of 7-10.

Socorro fell just one game short of making the playoffs, Walsh said. He’s banking on senior leadership and a roster of talented athletes to change that this season.

“We’re a smaller program, so we don’t have club kids,” Walsh said. “But we have a lot of multisport athletes.”

Senior defender Dushan Gacanich is one of the Warriors’ key returnees.

“Our team philosophy is based on defense, and he gives us more size up front,” Walsh said.

Bolstering Socorro’s defense are junior goalkeeper Dennis Woods, who also plays basketball, and senior defender Sam Burleigh.

“He’s big, tall and fast,” Walsh added.

Offensively, Walsh said senior midfielder Colton Wheeler will be a big factor for the Warriors.

“He’s very athletic,” he added.

In his goal of keeping kids interested in soccer, Walsh invites a handful of youth players to attend the high school practices and games.

“We always invite them to come help out at practice,” he said.

Walsh hopes to one day see them take the field as Warriors.

Socorro opens the season at home against East Mountain 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Warriors host Belen at 3 p.m. Aug. 21 and travel to Pojoaque for a 3 p.m. game on Aug. 25.