With the fall sports season soon to be underway, county soccer teams are preparing for what could be a great year for several local teams.
Following another semistate appearance last season, the Avon boys’ soccer team hopes to build upon the success of season’s past and take that next step into the state final.
The Orioles finished 16-3-4 and 6-1-2 in the tough Hoosier Crossroads Conference. Avon returns 11 lettermen from last year, including senior team captains Tyler Beam and Eric Lowery and junior Quinton Bridegroom.
“Tyler is a very talented goalkeeper who played behind all-state keeper Chris Jones last season and I expect him to have a great season,” Avon coach Phil Schmidt said. “Quinton, who scored nine goals as a sophomore, is a very talented player and an excellent leader.”
Schmidt also pointed to Lowery, Conner Jordan, and Sam Camp as “seniors who are excited to lead the program and expect to finish their career strong” for the Orioles.
Also returning is two-time letter-winner Noah Zorniger that Schmidt called “one of the top players in the state.”
Avon’s entire starting lineup lettered last season and again looks to make a deep run into the postseason.
Bethesda Christian had a successful campaign last season with an 11-5-2 record. The Patriots return 12 players and will need to rely on that experience as they look to build upon last season’s successes.
The Patriots won their opening sectional contest against Tri-West before succumbing to Greencastle in the championship game. Bethesda will again host the sectional this season.
Helping the Patriots to that end are the team’s seniors.
“We have a strong senior class,” Bethesda coach Michael Poynter said. “Luke Wachter, Nathan Buck, and Adam Warrick are strong defensive players while Patrick McCurry and Eric Poynter should help us offensively.”
Many of the Patriots’ offensive weapons graduated from last season, but Poynter hopes a solid defense will help aid Bethesda early in the season.
“We should have a strong defense and good overall team speed,” he said. “(We) have the potential to be successful on offense. We have a mix of experience as our seniors have played a lot. But many of the underclassmen will need to make a big step forward.”
Of those underclassmen Poynter alluded to, sophomore Andrew Warrick was one potential player he pointed to that could have a big year.
After graduating a large group of seniors that led Plainfield to an 8-8 record last season, the Quakers had 45 boys tryout for this year’s squad. Seven of those players have varsity experience.
Five of the seven are seniors Caleb Fouty, Zack Keck, Collin Maple, Isaac Jones, and Alex Dunfee. The other two are junior Mason Fischer and sophomore Lucas Kesterson.
“I expect that all five of my returning seniors each take a big piece of the leadership role to make sure their last year is a memorable one,” Plainfield coach David Knueve said. “I think the younger players would benefit in watching their enthusiasm for the sport and community.”
Knueve cited the team’s mental toughness as its biggest asset and younger players in new positions as the largest weakness.
“I think that our young players have been playing soccer for a long time, but just not at a high school varsity level,” Knueve said. “They’ll struggle with playing kids three to four years older than themselves.”
Cascade finished 3-12-1 last season, but had its largest turnout in school history with 27 players. Coach Logan Faulkner enters his second year as the Cadets’ coach and says he has high hopes this year.
“Moving into this new season we are very optimistic as to where the program is heading,” he said. “There is a dramatic improvement in numbers and depth of skill from last year.”
Seventeen players return from last season including seniors Patrick Jaggers, Daljot Bajwa, Brian McConnel, and Austin Lautenschlager.
“Last year was a big building year, and we’re starting to see the results of the hard work the guys have put in during the off season,” Faulkner said. “We’re still a very young team, with a lot of talented freshman coming in, but the competition and skill level of everyone on the team has grown and I look forward to the season.”
Faulkner lost standout goalkeeper Avery Franklin from last season’s squad, but said the “defense and keeper core are very solid and athletic.”
The offense looks to be based on new and creative ways to get the ball into scoring positions. Faulkner doesn’t want the team to worry about individual success, but just getting wins under their belts.
“I told my guys to not get hung up on statistics,” he said. “I want them to focus on being the best they can be, put in the effort for their teammates and we’ll let the results reflect our work ethic.”
Tri-West coach Adam Bontreger plans on making this boys’ soccer season really count as it’s his last one.
Also the head basketball coach, Bontreger has a young family at home and wants his final season of coaching soccer “to be a memorable one.”
And the Bruins have a chance for a memorable season with key contributors returning. Senior forward Sam Koelling returns after leading Tri-West in goals (11), assists (7), and shots (70). First-team all-Sagamore Conference senior midfielder Josh McGrath will also be heavily relied upon this season.
“Both of these guys are entering into their fourth varsity season at Tri-West and are returning captains for our team,” Bontreger said. “We expect both of them to have career years for our team.”
Other key returners for the Bruins include 6-foot-4 senior goalie Jacob Gimbel, sophomore defender Donnie Hott, and sophomore midfielder Trevor Waite.
With a veteran group, not many newcomers are expected to see time, but Bontreger said junior forward Kyle Kirby and sophomore midfielder/forward Jacob Gick could contribute.
After finishing fourth in conference and 9-5-4 last season, Tri-West will look to improve on those marks.
“We have an experienced team that should compete well versus all the teams on our schedule this season,” Bontreger said. “We hope to win our conference — although solid teams like Danville and Frankfort, the returning champs, stand in our way — and ultimately, win the sectional title at Bethesda.”
After a strong 2012 campaign, the Brownsburg boys’ soccer team returns with redemption in mind.
The Bulldogs were bounced early after a loss to eventual regional champion Avon 1-0 in sectionals. Brownsburg went 11-3-3 last season and didn’t register a loss until 13 games into the season.
With an upperclassmen-heavy team (11 seniors and eight juniors), expectations are high this season.
“We expect to be very competitive in the HCC (Hoosier Crossroads Conference) and the state tournament,” Bulldogs coach Todd Frost said. “Every year, we expect to wins sectionals, nothing has changed there.”
Frost looks to seniors Max Jackson and Geno James and junior Jack Griffin to lead the way for Brownsburg.
Other Bulldogs looking to be main contributors are senior strikers Troy Hale and Daniel Johnson, who Frost said “should be an offensive threat in every match we play.”
Junior Cameron Mattern will play at midfield and be relied upon heavily.
“We finished second last year in the HCC without losing a match,” Frost said. “We would like to improve on that.”
The Danville boys’ soccer team is under a new direction this season with a familiar face leading the way.
An assistant coach for the past two seasons and a 2004 graduate of Danville, Drew Brokamp has taken over as the new Warriors’ coach. Brokamp also played soccer and helped lead Danville to its last Sagamore Conference championship in 2003.
“I’m excited for my first season as head coach at Danville Community High School,” Brokamp said. “It’s an excellent school and program, and I’m looking forward to a good season.”
Last season the Warriors went 8-10 and beat Plainfield 1-0 in the sectional opener before losing to sectional runner-up Mooresville.
Brokamp will rely upon three returning varsity players this season in Turner Perkins, Landon Brown, and Dustin Rieser. Last year, Perkins and Rieser were named first-team all-Sagamore Conference and Brown was named to the second-team. Rieser led the team in scoring with 21 goals and Brown had a team-best nine assists.
“They bring leadership and experience that will be necessary to our success this year,” Brokamp said.
Newcomers expecting to make an impact on the field include Noah Sieferman, Andrew Smith, and Jason Eisenhart.
Brokamp said he believes this team “can challenge for the conference and sectional titles this year.”