CLERMONT COUNTY – Simple fact of nature – eagles fly.
The Milford High School boys soccer team knows it better than most as 10 of head coach Brian Croston’s players flew the coop via graduation.
Eight of them – including all-league honorees like Thomas Moore, now playing for the U.S. Naval Academy – were starters on a 2013 Eagles team that went 13-6, including a 4-2 mark in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference. Milford tied for third in the ECC with Loveland, coming in behind league champion Turpin and runner-up Walnut Hills.
The three remaining starters coming into the 2014 campaign are senior captain Jack Burgess at defender, senior midfielder Tanner Sherwood and junior defender Mitchell Wenzler. Senior defender Zach Remm is a returning varsity player stepping into a starting role.
“You could say we’re building from the back forward; that’s a pretty fair statement,” Croston said. “We have a lot of holes to fill, obviously, and we’ve got five sophomores on the varsity so far. We hope to be a team that can really move the ball around and use some pace to be effective.”
Juniors Robbie Lynch and Matt Zwilling will split the goal keeping duties. On the other end of the field, senior Xander Johnson joins Evan Stropes at forward.
The Eagles open at home against Sycamore Aug.19; they open ECC play on the road at Loveland Aug. 28.
Clermont Northeastern High School struggled through a 2-14 season in 2013, including a 1-7 mark in the Southern Buckeye Conference National. Only Felicity-Franklin’s 0-7-1 record kept the Rockets out of the league cellar.
“(We’re going to) try to finish near the top of the league with key matchups versus Blanchester and Felicity,” said third-year head coach Rob Carlier. The Rockets visit Blanchester Aug. 27 and play at Felicity Sept. 9.
Carlier looks to senior fullback Darian Bullock for leadership. Bullock also plays football and runs cross country for the Rockets. Junior halfback Seth Chambers halfback and junior fullback David Smith bring additional experience. Freshman Erick Sheppard will make an immediate impact, starting at goalie for CNE.
The Rockets open the season Aug. 18 at Fayetteville-Perry and host Ripley in their home opener Aug. 26.
Goshen High School went 3-10-4 in 2013, including an 0-7-3 record that left the Warriors in the cellar of the SBC American division. Mark Willemin takes over the head coaching duties with the hope of improvement.
The Warriors open with road games at Western Brown and Batavia, respectively, Aug. 26 and 28, before coming home to face Amelia Sept. 2.
McNicholas High School posted a 10-4-5 overall record under first-year head coach Jason Peters last season. McNick went 5-0-2 in the Greater Catholic League Coed Central, a record that landed the Rockets a league title and Peters coach of the year honors.
What will he do for an encore after graduating 11 seniors?
“Although we may not have the most experienced squad this year, we have a talented group of players,” Peters said. “We will rely on leadership from our more experienced players … and we expect contributions from (the) juniors. Overall we are excited and looking forward to a good year.”
The experienced players include a trio of seniors in defender Trevor Hogue with midfielders Christian Null and Justin Brunot. Also back are junior midfielders Griffin Garrison and Tristan Bently.
New varsity players include junior midfielders Jake Round, Zach Arnold and Blake Murphy. Sophomore forward J.T. Tilley could be a solid scoring threat.
The Rockets open the season Aug. 16 against Batavia. McNick hosts league rival Middletown Fenwick Sept. 30 and squares off against King of the Hill rivals Anderson Aug. 23 on the road and at Turpin Sept. 13.