Patriot Athletic Conference
By Ryan Kaczmarski and Joe Ostrica
The Lutheran West boys soccer program is coming off a very successful 2013 season in which it was the PAC Stripes co-champs with Fairview and went 12-7 (6-3 in the PAC).
But if the Longhorns plan to repeat as division champs – which would be a first in school history – new faces will have to step up and take leadership roles vacated by last year’s seniors.
“Last year’s team had 12 seniors and really meshed well with one another,” Lutheran West head coach Josh Hubeler said. “We had a tremendous goalkeeper in Jacob Psshock, also.”
The key returning players on offense include Sam Zyck, who led the Longhorns in assists last year, and Jon Handwerk, who will be the backbone of the midfield.
“A wonderful addition this year will be David Quayle, who was ineligible due to playing with his soccer club,” Hubeler added. “He will step in and make an immediate impact.”
Eric Bender will lead the young defensive squad.
The seniors on this year’s team are Zyck, Anthony Lantz, Handwerk, Nate Albrecht, Jason Straffen, David Bemer and goalkeeper Tim Moses.
“We are a pretty young team, that is looking forward to improve each game of the season,” Hubeler said. “I expect another great season out of these superb athletes.”
Fairview High School also has many seniors lost to graduation.
“Last year’s squad was hard working and had exceptional knowledge of the game and our style of play,” Warriors head coach Dave Snow said. “It’s hard to replace any senior that has developed through a program and has come to understand how to play the game with 10 players on the field.”
The Fairview attack will be led this year by junior Jacob Seeh (captain), and sophomores Eloin Bendo, Allen Tin and Jared Wilkenson.
“These players will all play a part in this year’s goal scoring and are currently learning to work together in the attacking half of the field,” Snow said.
The defense is led by senior Cal Wolansky; juniors Kevin Gibbons (captain) and Andrew Puckly; and sophomore Jack Salamon.
“They are currently working hard to understand each other’s habits and developing the communication skills needed to defend our goal,” Snow explained. “Jacob Seeh brings the ability to see the field and control the ball. He also knows his teammates well and knows how and when to play them the ball. Jacob’s speed and foot skills allow him to win many battles on the field.
“Kevin Gibbons brings his understanding of how to keep the ball away from our net and control the field from the defense forward. He is the vocal leader on the team and shows everyone what a true athlete is through his actions.”
Key newcomers include Evan Billington, Ian Broadbent, Nick Donofrio, Jack Frenz, Ben Krueger, Dlan Lptak, Nick Miler, Seth Ketchem, Abdue Karimov and Alex Farkas.
“The main strength of our team this year is talent,” Snow explained. “Each player brings a different element to the game.”
The Brookside boys soccer team is returning nine of its 11 starters from last season’s 8-10 (including 2-7 in the PAC) roster. Seniors Brandon Kmitt (All-PAC and All-Lorain County first team, All- Greater Cleveland second team), Mike Norris (All-PAC and All-Lorain Couny second team), Kenny Pierson (All-PAC honorable mention, All-Lorain County second team) and Cameron Drew (Lorain County honorable mention) and juniors Chris Jones (All-PAC and All-Lorain County first team) and Austin White (Lorain County honorable mention) are back for the Cardinals.
“Our team goals are to have a winning record and compete for a conference title,” Brookside head coach Kyle Pohl said. “Firelands and Buckeye are the teams to beat.”