FAIRFIELD — The players play the game, but there has to be a coach running the show.
Vanden boys soccer coach Roy Darbison was that guy this season, leading the Vikings to their best boys soccer season in school history.
For his efforts, Darbison has been selected as the 2013 Daily Republic Coach of the Year.
All Darbison did was propel the Vikings to a regular season record of 16-0-1 and won the school’s first-ever boys Solano County Athletic Conference title, then won their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener 3-0 over Manteca. Vanden’s stellar season finally came to an end in the SJS semifinals after a 4-0 loss to Central Valley, the section’s eventual runner-up to finish the 2013 campaign at 17-1-1.
“They set the bar really high for me. Hopefully we can get the next couple of seasons as good as that,” Darbison said. “I had a great bunch of kids that were easy to work with. (The end result) was way more than I expected. I expected to do well, but this surpassed that.”
Another bar set high for Vanden’s squad was picking up key wins over Vacaville, Armijo and Benicia, something that hasn’t been done in recent years.
“It was fairly easy (coaching this team),” Darbison said. “We had good characters. We had a few that didn’t play before, so there was a wide range of talent. There was a great attitude with the kids. Some who didn’t play much at start of the season got more playing time near the end of season. We tried to get kids that never scored into a position to do that.
“There were a couple of clashes, but they really complimented each other. That’s just the competitive nature of the sport. (Teams have) one or two players that really stand out, but we had more than that. That made them try harder in practice and in the games. At the same time, they worked together very well.”
According to Maxpreps.com, the Vikings scored 59 goals in their 19 games for an average of 3.1 per contest, and also tallied 35 assists, and recorded 202 shots on goal.
Some of the key players that stood out for the Vikings included Steward Pimienta, who topped the Vikings with 22 goals and added six assists. Dominiq Plutino-Laird was next with 11 goals, while Yousef Rezogui had eight. Patrick Dazo led Vanden with 11 assists.
Goalkeeper Antonio Ramirez recorded seven shutouts and had 53 saves on the season.
“It’s funny. They were joking when they came back from the playoffs and said ‘You can only lose one next year and then your fired,’ ” Darbison said. “They set a high standard. They want to live up to that and so do I. We don’t want it to be a fluke. I told them that I’m going to be in this program for a while and want to win more banners.
“I had 10 seniors (this season), so I’m probably going to bring up some sophomores (next season). I brought them to the last game. They saw the talent we were up against. They will be ready to work hard next year.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.