Area squads seek to build on improvements

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

Scouting this year’s area boys soccer teams:

Herald File Photos
Jackson Kabrick will be one of the key contributors on a Jasper boys soccer squad that hopes to bounce back from an uncharacteristic 9-9 season in 2017. While the Cats did graduate a few key pieces such as Josue and Angelino Dubon, they will return players such as Kabrick and Tyler Hunt, the team’s top goal scorer from a year ago.

Jasper Wildcats

Last year
9-9 overall and 4-2 in Big Eight Conference play, lost 2-1 to Castle in sectional championship match.

First match
Aug. 16 at Evansville Memorial, first home match on Aug. 25 against Mount Vernon

Returning Players
Tyler Hunt (Sr., forward)
Camden Knies (Sr., midfield)
Evan Leuck (Sr., defense)
Jacob Mehringer (Sr., midfield)
Austin Rawlins (Sr., midfield/forward)
Dillon Sternberg (Sr., defense)
Brian Elizarraras (Jr., forward)
Jackson Kabrick (Jr., midfield)
Grant Sanders (Jr., defense/midfield)

Key Newcomers
Piercen Abbett (Jr., goalkeeper)
Kahle Burger (Jr., midfield/forward)
Ludvig Dall (Jr., midfield)
Christopher Diaz (Jr., midfield)
Kristoffer Fladseth (Jr., midfield)
Quentin Harmon (Jr., goalkeeper)
Jason Mair (Jr., defense)
Nathan Mehringer (Jr., midfield)
Joseph Werner (Jr., midfield/defense)
Ayden Wigand (Jr., midfield)

Notable: Jasper head coach Kyle Kendall doesn’t like to use the term “rebuilding” but he admits that last year was a little bit of a step back to get some young guys adjusted to the speed and pace of playing varsity soccer after the Cats lost five defensive players and their starting goalkeeper after the 2016 season.

While the young defense struggled at times last season, Kendall was thrilled with the experience they received from the plethora of close games they played.

“We let some close games get away last year that we should’ve won,” Kendall said. “Whenever we lost one of those games last year we would just kind of look at each other and say, ‘Well at least they’re getting experience’ but now we feel we have a defense that is seasoned and understands our system much better.”

While Jasper did graduate a few key pieces including the brother tandem of Josue and Angelino Dubon, the Cats will return a few key pieces such as Tyler Hunt (who led Jasper with 26 goals a year ago) and Jackson Kabrick who Kendall believes will be “one of the top players on the field no matter who we play.” Kendall is also excited to see Dillon Sternberg and Evan Leuck help anchor the defense.

After finishing at just .500 last season, for many of the Cats last year felt like a step backward. But the confidence is at a whole new level heading into the 2018 season

Quotable: “There’s really good energy right now,” Kendall said. “Last year kind of wore on us because we were used to winning around 80 percent of our games and even though we went .500, it felt much worse than that. This year there’s an optimism in camp that this is going to be a rebound year and they’re really looking forward to putting it together.”

Southridge’s Jorge Soto reacted after missing on a shot attempt last season. Soto is one of nine returning starters for the Raiders boys soccer squad that is hoping to build on a season that saw them win their first sectional match in school history.

Southridge Raiders

Last year
Finished with a 6-9 record (2-5 in conference play) and won their first sectional game in school history (2-1 over Gibson Southern) before falling to Washington

First match
Aug. 16 at home against Heritage Hills

Returning Players
Cole Bieker (Sr., defense)
Jeovany Dubon (Sr., midfield)
Diego Duron (Sr., defense)
Jonathan Escobar (Sr., forward)
Ivan Flores (Sr., defense)
Kevin Herrera (Sr., defense)
Melvin Orellana (Sr., goalkeeper)
Jorge Soto (Sr., midfield)
Deniss Villalta (Sr., midfield)

Key Newcomers
Luis Flores (Sr.)
Jeffrey Echeverria (Jr.)
Jaylen Leon (Soph., midfield)
Lucas Martinez (Soph., forward)

Notable: While Southridge’s boys soccer program is still relatively young (entering their third season), head coach Ryan Wallace has a feeling his squad is destined for big things after winning their first-ever sectional match last season against Gibson Southern.

The Raiders will return nine of 11 starters including captains Jeovany Dubon and Jonathan Escobar, who led Southridge with 21 goals a year ago.

“The plan is to try and pick up right where we left off,” Wallace said. “We added a new formation that complements our seniors and their abilities — basically we have a veteran team and we’re excited about it.”

There are many positives about having a veteran team but what Wallace was most excited about was being able to jump into new and fresh things immediately on the first day of practice.

Quotable: “We’re not having to teach and reiterate things to younger kids,” Wallace said. “We’ve had these boys in this system for long enough now where we can show a play or run some formations in practice and they’re getting after them early in the season rather than later.”

Along with fellow junior Gryffin Flowers, Logan Englert is one of the players that Forest Park coach Mike Foerster expects to play a major role in the Rangers midfield. Foerster is also anticipating a talented group of seven freshmen who will likely see some playing time at some point this season.

Forest Park Rangers

Last year
Finished the season with a 3-13-1 record overall with all three wins coming in conference play (3-4 overall in the Pocket Athletic Conference), lost 3-0 to Northeast Dubois in the sectional championship

First match
Aug. 14 at home against New Albany

Returning Players
Jace Bieker (Sr.)
Garrett Jochem (Sr.)
Bryson Weyer (Sr., defense)
Tyler Berger (Jr., forward)
Logan Englert (Jr., midfield)
Gryffin Flowers (Jr., midfield)
Hunter Helming (Jr.)
Zach Hopf (Jr., midfield)
Evan Tretter (Jr.)
Zach Wahl (Jr., goalkeeper)

Key Newcomers
Austin Clifton (Soph.)
Ben Kluesner (Soph.)
Kristian Alegria (Fr.)
Camren Giesler (Fr.)
JD Kerber (Fr.)
Conner Knies (Fr.)
Gabe Muller (Fr.)
Dylan Weyer (Fr.)
Spenser Wolf (Fr.)

Notable: Last year’s struggles were pretty simple according to Forest Park head coach Mike Foerster — it was a struggle to put the ball in the net.

This year, Foerster is trying to implement a bigger focus on creating a dynamic offense that can stymie opponents.

“This year we’re putting more of an emphasis on our offensive strategy and trying to move a bit more to foster more of an offensive attack,” Foerster said. “That includes moving one of our starting defenders last year (junior Tyler Berger) to the forward position on our starting line.”

While Foerster has been impressed with the work ethic he’s seen this offseason from senior Bryson Weyer on the defensive line and juniors Logan Englert and Gryffin Flowers in the midfield, he’s excited to see a rather large group of freshmen potentially work their way into the starting lineup at some point during the season.

And even though this year’s Ranger squad only currently has 19 boys on the roster (the first time Foerster can recall the boys team having a smaller roster than the girls squad in a long time), he believes this team may be one of the more fundamentally sound groups Forest Park has ever had.

Quotable: “We’ll be looking to dominate possession this year against most teams and that will set us up well for putting the ball in the net,” Foerster said. “We won’t be very deep in terms of numbers but in terms of talent and quality players, we’re just as deep as we’ve always been.”

Heritage Hills’ Carson Leibering (left) and Northeast Dubois’ Logan Dodd (right) battled for possession during last year’s match between the Patriots and Jeeps. While Northeast Dubois is looking to win their second straight sectional championship, Heritage Hills is looking to try and get through a tough sectional that includes Evansville Memorial and Evansville Mater Dei.

Northeast Dubois Jeeps

Last year
Finished the regular season with a 16-3-1 record (5-1 in Blue Chip conference) en route to a sectional championship victory over Forest Park, lost 3-1 in regional to Providence

First match
Aug. 14 at Wood Memorial, first home match on Aug. 17 against South Knox

Returning Players
Malachi Baumeister (Sr., defense)
Jackson Brosmer (Sr., goalkeeper)
Logan Dodd (Sr., defense/midfield)
Marshall Knies (Sr., defense)
Trevor Seufert (Sr., defense)
Chase Zehr (Sr., midfield/foward)
Darrin Grigsby (Jr., midfield)
Ethan Myers (Jr., defense)
Cole Tretter (Jr., defense)
Jordan Vittitow (Jr., forward)

Key Newcomers
Jacob Ivey (Sr., forward/midfield)

Notable: It’s no secret that Northeast Dubois will miss the contributions of Alan Kerstiens and Brandon Merkel as the two 2018 graduates combined for a total of 70 goals during the Jeeps successful 2017 season.

But head coach Clive Williams is excited to see a more balanced approach when it comes to the scoring opportunities this season.

“Right now we’re trying to develop a team approach where everyone is involved in the process because last year we had two main scorers and right now we don’t have that,” Williams said. “It’s going to have to come from a variety of players instead of just one or two.”

Four of the main players that Williams will be looking to make an impact this season will be the team’s senior captains — Logan Dodd, Marshall Knies, Malachi Baumeister and Trevor Seufert.

While all four of them played significant varsity minutes last season, he’s looking to see even more from that group of leaders in 2018.

Quotable: “Those four guys were kind of in the shadows last year,” Williams said. “I hope they can lead our team to be just as successful if not more successful then we were last season.”


Heritage Hills Patriots

Last year
Finished the season with a 13-5 record overall and a 6-1 record in the PAC before falling to Evansville Memorial in the sectional semifinal

First match
Aug. 14 at home against Boonville

Returning Players
Mason Ayer (Sr., defense)
Mitch Blasdel (Sr.)
Harrison Carpenter (Sr., defense/midfield)
Brian Ibarra (Sr.)
Carson Leibering (Sr., midfield/forward)
Luke Leffert (Sr., defense/midfield)
Sam Schnieders (Sr., defense)
Gannon Staggs (Sr., midfield/forward)
Nick Brinkman (Jr.)
Noah Collignon (Jr.)
Zach Fortune (Jr.)
Reece Gogel (Jr.)
Leo Martinez (Jr.)
Sam Scott (Jr.)
Elliott Buechlein (Soph.)
Jaxon Foertsch (Soph.)
Oliver Martinez (Soph.)
Kaleb Phelps (Soph.)

Key Newcomers
Jack Cox (Sr.)
Josh Copeland (Fr.)
Brody Ficker (Fr.)
Derek Fortune (Fr.)
Austin Hill (Fr.)
Ethan Hill (Fr.)
Garrett Keller (Fr.)
Jose Lara (Fr.)
Gabe Staggs (Fr.)
Nathan Windell (Fr.)

Notable: When Heritage Hills head coach Joe Asbury saw the Class 2A preseason rankings come out, he wasn’t surprised to find out who was No. 1 in the state — sectional foe and defending state champion Evansville Memorial.

The Patriots joined the crowded 2A sectional last year that also includes Evansville Mater Dei (ranked No. 3 in this year’s Class 2A preseason poll). But Asbury is confident that this year’s team has the ability to compete with anyone they face on the pitch.

“Our sectional is very difficult but we’re going to put a team together that will try and make it hard on those guys,” Asbury said. “We feel like we’ll have a team that can compete, we’ll start all juniors and seniors so both physically an experience-wise we should be ready to play.”

Some of the senior leaders for the Patriots this season on the defensive side will be all-conference defender Sam Schnieders and Luke Leffert while offensively all-conference weapon Carson Leibering and Gannon Staggs should give opponents fits with the ball.

While those are a few of the players that stick out for the Pats, overall Asbury feels that there isn’t any one weakness in the team’s starting lineup.

Quotable: “I think we’re going to be pretty consistent throughout our entire lineup,” Asbury said. “Consistency is one of our strengths — I don’t think we’re going to be a team where if you take one of our players out then we won’t be successful, we have several guys who will be able to contribute both offensively and defensively.”




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