Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

August 17, 2013

Boys' teams seek to net soccer titles

By Jake Thompson jake.thompson@flyergroup.com
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — Many of the area’s soccer teams saw much improvement last season and hope to build upon that success this year. One team, however, seeks to continue its dominance in the postseason.

Avon

For the fifth consecutive season last year the Avon Orioles brought home the sectional trophy. And while that’s certainly impressive, consider the Orioles have won nine of the last 11 sectional titles.

Avon coach Phil Schmidt gave one definitive answer for the Orioles’ success as it consistently comes against some of the best competition in the area.

“First and foremost we have good players,” he said. “We work hard as a program to get better as the season goes on to be in the best position possible in the tournament. I’m proud of our success, but we are well of aware of how talented the teams in our sectional and regional are. Every year is different and this year will be as challenging as ever. We have great respect for the talent on the area teams.”

From top to bottom Avon produces some of the top talent around and this season is no different. Avon brings back three Hoosier Crossroads all-conference players in Jordan Kleyn, Jeremy Locke and Noah Zorniger.

Kleyn had team bests of 11 goals and eight assists for 30 points last year while Zorniger was second in those categories with 10 goals, six assists and 26 points.

“Noah and Jordan are excellent players who will be counted to be major contributors again this year,” Schmidt said. “We are looking at playing Noah in the back to solidify our back line and allow other talented players to step up in scoring roles along with Jordan.”

The Orioles tied Brownsburg and Noblesville in what has perennially become the toughest conference in the state for boys soccer as many of the teams reside in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll all season.

“The HCC is always a great challenge and this year will be no different,” Schmidt said. “Brownsburg, Noblesville, Westfield, Zionsville, HSE, and Fishers are not only tough conference foes, but also among the top teams in the state every year. It will be very impressive whichever team wins the HCC this year.”

Locke and Zorniger will hold down the defensive back line with sophomore Tyler Shanahan in goal. Shanahan has big shoes to fill, as the last three Avon keepers have been all-state goalies. Schmidt said Tyler “has the potential to develop into that type of player.”

Kleyn, and seniors Quinton Bridegroom, Jonathon Kopp, and Brandon Williams, lead a potent offensive attack for the Orioles.

“Those four are outstanding attacking players who will be looked to carry much of the scoring load,” Schmidt said.

Bridegroom, Kopp and Zorniger will handle captains duties for the Orioles.

“Our team has tremendous experience and has been able to experience a lot of situations to help prepare them for this year,” Schmidt said. “This team is technically strong and should be an outstanding possession team with the ability to also strike quickly in counter opportunities. We should have a very solid back line that will be tough for opponents to break down.”

Plainfield

When Plainfield coach David Knueve took over the Plainfield boys’ soccer program a few years ago, he did so knowing it would take some time to match his vision. Now that a couple of graduating classes have cycled through, Knueve feels more confident than ever about the direction Plainfield soccer is heading.

Since the Quakers have built a solid base, distinct improvements should be on the horizon.

“The program is in great shape with leaders throughout,” Knueve said. “Both the present and the future look really bright for Plainfield soccer.”

However, the Plainfield coach understands improvement comes gradually.

“Our goal is to get better each day,” Knueve said.

Helping the team towards their goals are eight seniors. Jeff Todd, Riley Wildeman, Mason Fischer, Nate Dunn, Andrew Buckner, Jonah Bunch, Scott Cope and Kaleb Preston look to set the tone for Plainfield.

“They will bring direction, leadership and talent to the team,” Knueve said. “These seniors will be our leaders.”

Much like Plainfield bringing in Knueve to strengthen its soccer program, several Mid-State Conferences have done the same, making for stiffer conference competition.

Plainfield finished third in the Mid-State last season and tallied an 8-9 overall record.

“In the past couple of years the conference has added some really good coaches, and their dedication to the sport has brought about good competition,” Knueve said. “The conference winner will have worked hard to earn it. It will take hard work, great leadership, and skill to improve from last season.”

Fischer and junior Lucas Kesterson garnered all-conference honors last season.

“Their experience and skill are extremely valuable to the team,” Knueve said.

Todd, who manned the pipes last season, returns in goal for the Quakers.

“He is a talented young man due to his work ethic and love of the game,” Knueve said.

Adding to the Quakers’ talent this season, and adding some varsity minutes under their belts, are sophomore Connor Cutler and freshman Eric Horsting.

Brownsburg

Among one of the toughest teams in Indiana on a yearly basis, Brownsburg again looks to be one of the top teams in the area and state.

The Bulldogs finished 12-3-1 last season, winning seven of their last nine games before a loss in the sectional final to conference and county rival Avon. Brownsburg finished tied for second in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference with Avon and Noblesville, each team sharing a 6-2-1 record.

That end of the season momentum is something Brownsburg coach Todd Frost hopes his team will capitalize on.

“We definitely feel like we can pick up where we left off last season,” Frost said. “A lot of the key players are back to have a good season.”

Leading those players is Jack Griffith, an all-HCC player and captain from a season ago. Griffith recorded 12 goals last season, second only to former teammate Troy Hale (13).

“We are excited to have Jack back for another year,” Frost said. “He contributes on both sides of the ball and on and off the field.”

Senior Patrick Holden, a three-year starter, returns to his familiar position as goalkeeper.

“Patrick is a smart player who understands the game,” Frost said. “I think he is a player that will make huge plays for us this year at key moments.”

Griffith, Holden and teammate Cameron Mattern will captain the Bulldogs.

Griffith, Mattern, Michael Young and Eduardo Fajardo should set the pace offensively.

“Fajardo is a player that was out with an injury part of last year,” Frost said. “He is back to proper form and I anticipate him having a breakout year for us. Michael is also very dangerous. We believe he will cause problems for defenders.”

Frost also said Holden and Cody Mader “should be the driving forces of our defense.”

Despite all of Brownsburg’s success over the past few seasons, they’ve come up short in the postseason, something Frost would like to change.

“We want to get over the second place hump we have rode the last two seasons and make a run at the (HCC) championship,” he said. “We would also like to put behind us two disappointing sectional outcomes.”

Cascade

Cascade suffered through a tough year in 2012 and coach Logan Faulkner said he and his team have “put it behind us.”

The Cadets have adjusted their style of play to suit the returning players’ skill sets and hope to take advantage of those assets.

“This year we have done some restructuring and really focused on speed of play as well as continuing to sharpen technical and tactical play both on and off the ball,” Faulkner said. “We now have the depth of roster to accommodate all areas across the field.”

Cascade has the most players its had in the history of the program (29), building camaraderie and some old fashioned competition. One group of Cadets has led the charge for Faulkner.

“My upperclassmen have really taken ownership of the team and want to push and develop the younger guys, so I really do believe we will see a new Cascade squad come season opener,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

Seniors, Hayden Suter and Taylor Wilson, along with junior Cameron Cooper will captain the Cadets this season.

“All have shown great ability both on and off the field, and I know that I can count on them to give their best,” Faulkner said. “Suter has developed into a very accomplished player.”

Aiding Suter on the offensive attack will be sophomore Jeff Norris, who Faulkner called a “head turner.” Also forcing the ball towards the net from his wing position will be senior Kyle Harbison.

Returning to anchor the defensive side of the pitch will be sophomore goalkeeper Josh Masner, who was forced into action last year by a teammate’s injury. Masner utilized that opportunity and should be better for it.

“He had to step up in a very crucial part of the season for us,” Faulkner said. “There was a definite learning curve, but after a couple games under his belt he found his confidence and came up with some big games for us.”

Cooper, Wilson and Cameron Phillips will hold down and lead the defensive effort for the Cadets.

“We as a team have set very high goals and expectations for ourselves, goals we believe to be very tangible,” Faulkner said. “We plan to play as far into the postseason as possible and hopefully win some recognition and a name for ourselves as a contender at a higher level than previous teams fielded by Cascade. We truly do have the squad to turn some heads this year.”

Bethesda

The Patriots welcome Steven Bushre to the program as he takes over the reigns from Michael Poynter this season.

“The transition has gone pretty well so far,” Bushre said. “The players have great attitudes and are extremely coachable. This has made it much easier on me. We graduated eight starters last year and so it is going to be a transition for everyone. We are going through it together.”

Bethesda finished the 2012 season with a 6-7-3 record. The Patriots went 3-2-2 down the stretch before bowing out in the sectional opener to eventual champion Tri-West.

But the Patriots will have a harder road ahead of them than last season as they lost eight seniors off that team.

“We only have a few of the same players so the momentum is going to come from the hard work we have put in this summer so far,” Bushre said. “This is really a fresh start for some new players and everyone has a chance to prove themselves. We are transitioning to a new system, positions, and responsibilities as well as increased playing time for several players.”

Bethesda only has one senior this season, so while they are rebuilding, many young players will quickly gain valuable varsity experience.

Senior John Mlagan will captain the Patriots from between the pipes this year and while he lacks some experience at that position, Bushre believes he’s the right candidate for the job.

“He is putting in a lot of extra time and hard work,” Bushre said. “I have already seen improvement. He has all the physical skills to be a successful keeper and we should see him grow into one of the better keepers in the area by the end of the year.”

Offensively, Andrew Warrick Jr. and Triston McNaughton should lead the Patriots and Mlagan, Mitch Tate and Aaron Keim will solidify the defense.

“We have a good group of leaders that we are going to rely on this year and that will give us a good foundation to build around,” Bushre said.

Bushre also said to watch for freshman Scott Imel to make an impact early on as well as sophomore Ethan McNaughton.

Tri-West

Last season could not have been much sweeter for the Bruins as they walked away with the school’s first-ever sectional title. Tri-West finished the year 14-6 and tied for second in the Sagamore conference (5-2).

Getting back to the sectional final and winning will take some work as the Bruins lost the county’s leading goal scorer last season an a solid senior class.

Another obstacle the Bruins must overcome is getting used to a new coach as Jeff Denny takes over for Adam Bonetreger.

However, that shouldn’t be all that difficult, as Denny has served as the assistant coach.

“The transition has gone great with a great school right by my side supporting me the whole way,” Denny said. “Also, the administration staff at Tri-West has really helped with the transition. I think every new coach will have hurdles, that is what makes us strong for the long run.”

Denny is looking for the squad to embrace the team concept to the fullest this season and sees that as the key factor to the Bruins’ success.

“We are a team that can grow and learn each game,” Denny said. “We have one outlook and it is one game at a time. Don’t look too far ahead or you will miss what’s right in front of you.”

Captaining the Bruins are seniors Logan Stroup and Aaron Sorgius along with juniors Trevor Waite and Don Hott. Waite has named to the first-team all-Sagamore Conference squad last season and Hott was on the all-conference second team.

“These four guys are great leaders both on and off the field,” Denny said.

Danville

The Warriors finished a very successful 2012 season with a winning record (11-6) and a second-place finish in the Sagamore Conference. For many teams that would be a triumphant season, but the success just left Danville wanting more.

With nine seniors returning, Danville coach Drew Brokamp believes the Warriors might be better this year.

In fact, he’s counting on it.

“We lost a number of starters and key players last year, all of whom will be missed, but we are working hard to build a team that can compete with and surpass last year’s successes,” Brokamp said.

Danville graduated its leading scorer in Dustin Rieser, and the Warriors hope to fill that void not with one person, but a group of players. Turner Perkins, Jake Verble, Nick Winberg, Cameron Amor, and Daniel Gerber all will push the ball to the net and act as scoring threats.

“We will miss Dustin, but I believe our attack will be more dynamic this year with plenty of players competing for the team’s leading goal scorer,” Brokamp said.

Defensively, the Warriors welcome a familiar face back to the goal. Zach Blankenship returns after an injury in his junior season sidelined him for most of the year.

“He has worked hard in the offseason to get back into game shape,” Brokamp said. “He has already greatly impressed me with his performance in practices and scrimmages. I know Zach is looking forward to playing a full season, and the fact that this is his senior year provides additional motivation.”

Perkins will wear the captain’s armband for the third consecutive season, however, every senior is being called upon to lead the Warriors. In addition to Perkins, Verble, Blankenship, Amor and Winberg along with Landon Dowell, Alex Burdsall, Aaron Starlin and Jason Eisenhart will all play a part in directing the Warriors this season.

With so many seniors, Danville’s underclassmen — juniors Chad McDougle and Scott Williamson, sophomore Keaton Shearin and freshmen Daniel Gerber and Christian Mason — should all benefit from the experience around them.

“(Our) seniors… have stepped up into leader positions and have been excellent role models for the newcomers this year,” Brokamp said. “We are fortunate to have so many players this year that lead both on and off the field.”