Laurel boys soccer team makes smooth transition to new coach

For the past several years, Daryl Ferguson was able to watch the Laurel High boys soccer team play a few games each season.

That was because his father, Eric, was the head coach of the Spartans for more than a decade.

But, at the end of last season, the younger Ferguson noticed a change in his father.

“He kind of didn’t look himself. Halfway through the season he felt like he wasn’t into it as much as the past,” Daryl Ferguson said.

The father and son kept talking and Eric Ferguson decided to step down as the Laurel High head coach, though he is still a member of the faculty and staff at the school on Cherry Lane.

“What if I took over the program?” the son asked his father.

The son decided to apply for his father’s coaching job, and now Daryl Ferguson is in his first season as the head coach of the Spartans.

The younger Ferguson played soccer at St. John’s College High in Washington, D.C. and in college at Seton Hill University in western Pennsylvania, which was a Division II program when he left the school.

Ferguson, 33, also played pro soccer in North America and spent the previous nine years as a coach at DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville, the last two as the head coach of the varsity program in the competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

“I am more a kind of technical coach, a lot more technical and defense first,” Daryl Ferguson said. “The first few games we had shutouts. I am more willing to change formations during games based on what I think will give us an advantage.”

“We use a 4-3-2-1 formation, but majority is 3-5-2. I think it fits us better. We have three center backs who I think play together well,” he added.

The first season has been going very well for the Lanham resident, who works as a nurse at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham and at a medical facility in Bowie.

Laurel was 6-0 before losing its first game, 1-0, to Northwestern of Hyattsville on Sept. 27.

The match was originally slated for Laurel High, but due to heavy rain it was switched from the grass field at Laurel, to the turf field at Northwestern.

“It was a cold and messy game,” Ferguson said.

The winning goal came about 15 minutes in the match. “They played a long ball; the goalie had a miscommunication with the center. The guy poked it in,” the Laurel coach said.

They bounced back with a 5-0 victory over Flowers before losing to Parkdale, 5-4, in overtime, and Bowie, 1-0.

They are currently 7-3 heading into Thursday’s home contest against Flowers.

Laurel lost, 3-1, to Bowie in the regional finals last season and has played well so far this year.

“We have done more technical stuff,” said Diego Chavez, a senior and co-captain for the Spartans. “Last year, we played a 4-4-3. We still play that some, but we switch it up to 3-5-2 when he sees that the team can make that work.”

Chavez, who hopes to play in college, said the Spartans have adapted to the coaching change well.

“The reason is because most of us play on the same club team,” Chavez said. “We have a good connection with each other. That helps us with better connections on the field.”

The starting goalie for Laurel is junior Joel Velasquez. Other seniors for the Spartans are defenders Mike Figueroa, Sharoz Khan and Cristian Polio, forward Trevor Ndambi and midfielder/forwards Kevon-Ariel Sonkeng and Kevin Ngatou-Chekem.

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