Chemistry on the field doesn’t appear overnight.
It’s something developed through years of practice and playing together, and for some high school teams, it’s tough to achieve.
With players playing for different clubs outside of high school, for different coaches, under different styles, some teams struggle to gel.
But Acadiana hasn’t had that problem, and it’s one of the reasons why it has advanced to the semifinals of the LHSAA boys soccer playoffs.
Rams coach Jan Richard has coached several of his players throughout at the club and high school levels, gaining their trust and instilling within them his competitive spirit.
Richard said he’s had some of them on his team since they were as young as 10, and his fiery personality has rubbed off them.
“I’ve always been pretty intense, even when I had some of these guys at 10,” Richard said. “They truly hate to lose, and I think at least some of that comes from me.”
Richard said the team’s experience against some of the top players in the region has helped them perform at a high level in the pressure of the playoffs.
Senior midfielder and captain Salvador Colin said the players saw how much Richard hated to lose, and it motivated them to perform on the field.
Colin’s relationship with Richard has blossomed to the point where they trust each other to make changes on the field.
“It’s nice, with me being the captain, to be able to suggest something at practice or at halftime and him take my advice,” Colin said. “It definitely helps us on the field.”
Colin, who plays at the tip of a midfield triangle operating as the team’s creative hub, and forwards Kade Kling and Jordan Angelle use their familiarity with each other and Richard’s system to power the Rams potent offense.
All three played for Richard at the club level and maintain a strong bond on and off the field.
“We hang out with each other all the time,” Colin said. “We are really good friends, so we are really comfortable with each other on the field.”
“They are brothers out there,” Richard said. “They’re a family. We win together and we lose together.”
Colin said he knows he can put it anywhere near Kling and the forward will be able to track it done.
“Anything I give him, he can turn into gold,” Colin laughed.
The bond has the Rams on the precipice of making the final, if they can get passed perennial-powerhouse Jesuit on Saturday.
But as Richard knows perhaps better than anyone else, his team is ready for the challenge.
“They know what I expect, they wear their heart on their sleeve,” Richard said. “They hate to lose, they will battle to the end and that is a tribute to them as players.”