West boys soccer team overcoming adversity, loss one goal at a t - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

West boys soccer team overcoming adversity, loss one goal at a time

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MADISON, Wis. (WKOW) -- The Madison West boys soccer team is off to another strong start this season, but it has been anything but "business as usual." The Regents are undefeated and ranked third in the state heading into their match-up with Beloit Memorial Thursday night; yet, West suffered a loss greater than it has ever faced.

"None of us really understood what was going on at the time," said senior forward Keefe Mitman.

Last February, legendary West soccer coach Chris Vasquez died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

"We try to just take it day by day," said Peter Dermody, who stepped in as the Regents' new head coach this summer. "We really try not to put the focus on the loss of Chris, not put the focus on trying to make the season about him, about honoring him. I mean, anyone that knows him knows that's not what he'd want. He'd want it to just be about the kids."

Dermody is a 2002 West graduate and played under Vasquez.

"It's a program that you come out of and you never really feel that you left it," Dermody said. "And you want what's best for the kids that are coming through after you."

West graduated eleven seniors, including nine starters from last year's Division 1 state semifinalist team.

"There's definitely a lot of stuff that we need to improve on," said junior midfielder Chris Bajek. "I don't think we're anywhere near our peak yet. But we just have to keep grinding things out."

"With the success this program has had over the years, there's an expectation," Dermody said. "We always say, you know, you're part of the West soccer program. Your goals are high."

Over his 21-year tenure, Vasquez led West to eight Big 8 Conference titles and five state tournament appearances. Still, it was always about more than winning to the longtime coach.

"The best way to honor coach, to honor Chris, is we just come out and we work hard," said Dermody. "As someone who played for him, and knowing what he asked out of you as a player, if you come out and play for the tradition of this program, as we say, you play for West, and if you do that you've honored him so much more."

"He really cared that we were having fun, that we were really bonding as a team," Mitman said. "And I know he's shining down on us as we go throughout this new season.

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