sophomore Jack Creech (8), shown here last Saturday against
Columbus St. Francis DeSales, will be a big part of a senior-oriented
Rockets squad in 2010. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
hit the pitch as season opens
By Jim Horvath
Published Sept. 1, 2010
was a memorable one for high school boys soccer in the Westshore
Don’t look now,
but the 2010 season could prove to be even better.
The Bay Rockets
etched out another chapter in their program’s storied history, advancing
all the way to the Division II state championship match against
Columbus St. Francis DeSales. They did that despite losing the West
Shore Conference title to Avon at the end of the regular season.
And no, the
Rockets haven’t forgotten. More on that in a minute.
North Olmsted had banner seasons, tying for the Southwestern Conference
crown and meeting up again in the Division I district championship
match. The Eagles got the better of the Demons in that meeting and
advanced to the regional semifinals.
With the 2010
season underway, many of the area’s teams are looking for more of
Bay got off
to a 1-0-2 start last week in one of the most grueling first weeks
a team could possibly have. The Rockets tied east side powerhouse
Chagrin Falls, 1-1, then came back two nights later and claimed
a 1-0 decision at St. Edward. Last Saturday night, Bay hosted DeSales
in a rematch and rallied in the second half for a 2-2 tie.
As tough as
that schedule was, Rockets head coach Bob Dougherty and his team
have one match in mind: the upcoming replay with Avon.
“Avon is definitely
the big game for us,” Dougherty admitted prior to his team’s match
with DeSales. “They beat us in our own house (2-1), and were the
only WSC team to score on us last year. So yes, we’re definitely
looking forward to playing them again.”
his 12th season as the team’s head coach, will have plenty of ammunition
at his disposal with 14 seniors and seven returning starters. Most
of them have been playing at the varsity level for three seasons,
giving the Rockets one of the most experienced teams in the Greater
returning include defender Tony Passalacqua, defender/midfielder
Connor Outcalt, midfielder Eric Linhart, forward Alec Petro, forward
Jackson Heller and forward/midfielder Connor Spies, who was promoted
to the varsity around the midseason mark last year.
Also back is
one of the team’s top underclassmen, sophomore Jack Creech, who
started in 10 matches last year. And a pair of sophomores, Matt
Toth and Koray Sayir, will battle it out to see who replaces Nate
McDonald at keeper.
to replace guys like Shane Williams and Nate McDonald,” Dougherty
admitted. “But we’ve managed to do it here every year. The players’
roles may change a little bit, but we’ve always had people step
up and get the job done.
“Being a senior-oriented
team, the guys are adjusting to having more of a leadership role,”
he said. “They’re figuring that out as we go along. It’s more of
a mental thing, really, trying to learn the right approach to take.
“On paper, we
have a wonderful team. But we still have to keep going out there
and continue to jell early on,” Dougherty added.
Olmsted senior Luke Hatfield controls the ball with a header
last Wednesday in the Eagles’ 3-0 win over Olmsted Falls. The
team is expected to contend for the Southwestern Conference
title, which it shared last year with Westlake. (West Life photo
by Larry Bennet)
Aside from the obvious challenge from Avon, the two
other teams looking to get into the title chase in the WSC are Fairview
and Rocky River. The Warriors and Pirates tied for third in the
league last year at 4-3 and both have key players returning this
11 players, but still has a strong core returning, according to
fifth-year head coach Dave Snow. Back for the Warriors are senior
Robby Miller, senior keeper Austin Zavodny and juniors Chris Gillmore,
James Roland and Adrian Bendo. Bendo scored 10 goals last year,
and Zavodny allowed 1.58 goals per match.
“We lost about
75 percent of our scoring from last year,” said Snow, whose team
went 10-7-2 overall in 2009. “And we only have three seniors, so
we’re looking for our underclassmen to step up to the plate for
“I’d like to
think were going to play at a decent level and jell as the season
goes on,” Snow said. “We’re looking to be competitive every time
out.” Junior Colin Schmitz is one of the underclassmen
in the mix, as well as sophomores Blake Beard, Kyle Starks, Mike
Wilkinson and David Salamon.
At River, graduation
took its toll as well as eight seniors graduated and took with them
17 of the team’s 28 goals scored. Still, head coach Kevin Zerby
feels his Pirates have what it takes to make a splash in 2010.
about what this bunch of guys can do,” Zerby said. “We have a lot
of talented and skilled players who are ready to prove that last
year’s run to the district finals wasn’t a fluke.
“Our goals are
to challenge for the WSC title and do what no other River team has
ever done before: win the district title. If we can come together
as a team, I think we can have a special season,” Zerby said.
the Pirates is senior keeper and co-captain Ian Taylor, who recorded
123 saves last year and had a goals against average of 1.40. Also
back is senior outside back and co-captain Kegan Sill, as well as
fellow seniors Zack Hutton (midfielder, co-captain) and Matt Garibaldi
(forward), who led the team in scoring last year with seven goals.
In the SWC,
North Olmsted is coming off one of its best seasons where the Eagles
went 16-2-3 overall. Veteran coach Chris Marsh begins his 18th season
with the team and 32nd year overall. A 3-0 win over Olmsted Falls
last week left him just five wins shy of 400 career victories.
Marsh said pay-to-play
has made a considerable dent in the program, but that his team has
plenty of firepower remaining to make another run.
“We had 11 players
not come out this year, including three starters,” Marsh said. “On
top of that, we graduated 12 seniors. That was one of the largest
senior classes we’ve had here.
“But the kids
have been fantastic trying to raise money,” Marsh said. “We got
the fee down to around $200 per player ($725 is the fee for varsity
soccer), and we got big donations from the NOSO Cup and Poppee’s
Popcorn that were a huge help.”
The team returns
senior tri-captains Josh Sandoval, Nolan Escher and Mike Warns.
Sandoval was an All-Ohio selection last year and scored 24 goals,
while Escher had 11 shutouts in goal. Also back is senior Nick Stone-Weiss,
who scored 10 goals last year.
Brett Croston returns as well. Looking to contribute this season
are senior midfielder Luke Hatfield, junior midfielder Jake Szeltner
and sophomore forward Dave Ball.
of room for the new players to step up and earn playing time,” Marsh
said. “If we can keep the ball out of the net, we should be able
to score some goals. We’ve got the guys on this team who can finish.”
coach Mike Besu begins his 23rd season in charge of the Demons,
who went 11-4-3 last year. His team won the SWC outright in 2008,
so he’s got a strong group of seniors who are two-time league champions.
some injuries early, so we’ve had to make some changes,” Besu said
last weekend after his team’s 3-0 road win at Mentor. One huge loss
will be that of senior Stephen James, who tore his ACL and will
miss the entire season.
are seven more seniors who will be looking to make it an SWC trifecta
in 2010. That group includes Paul Apel, Dane Rinko, Matt Ritz, Tim
Andrews, Cole Konrad, Alex Charnosky and Nick Perry. Also returning
is junior keeper Alex Ferrell, who earned the job last year but
was lost with a broken arm after the district semifinal match with
“We made some
changes after the Amherst game (1-1 tie), so right now we’re working
on getting the right chemistry going,” Besu said. “We’ve got players
on this team who have played since their freshman year, so they
know what that’s all about.
“In the SWC,
there are about three or four teams that can win it this year. We’re
ready to compete with them and defend our championship,” he added.
is looking for continued improvement after last year’s 6-8-3 campaign
and a 1-6-1 mark in the league. Head coach James Walchanowicz begins
his fourth season with the Bulldogs and 15th overall.
to have a very young team this year,” Walchanowicz said. “But we’ve
told ourselves this is not going to be a rebuilding year, and the
team has high expectations. We need to stay healthy, and we’re trying
to hang our hat on playing good defense as a team this year.”
Two of the Bulldogs’
top players are junior Taylor Lockhart and sophomore Jake Samsel,
the team’s keepers. On the back line, Falls has freshman Eric Skutt,
juniors Ryan Hanks, Kyle Barber and Tim McClaren, and senior Mike
the deep part of the roster for Falls with six to seven core players.
That list includes senior Zach Schultz, junior Brian Bildstein and
sophomore Brad Sommer as well as senior Jim Coury, sophomore James
Bildstein and freshmen Logan Johnston and Mike Payne. Up front,
seniors Max Norman and Mark Zapotosky, along with junior Dino Alai
and sophomore Jon Levin, will look to push the ball forward, according
will look to improve as well after going 2-13-2 overall and 2-4-1
in the Patriot Athletic Conference last year.
coach Josh Huebler returns eight lettermen, including seniors Lee
Magistri (forward/midfielder) and Kyle Bailey (defender/keeper).
Also back are juniors Ricky Downer, Daniel Hessler and keeper Gavin
MacDonald, who had 84 saves last year. Magistri had six goals and
three assists last year, while Downer chipped in with four goals
and one assist.