A look at the area’s 9 boys soccer teams with key returnees, key newcomers and outlooks:
• Coach: Fran Demasi (second season)
• Last season: 4-9-2; lost to Champlain Valley in Division I playdowns
• Key returnees: Alex Dinklage, midfield, sophomore; Peter Makuni, midfield, junior; Seraphin Iradukunda, midfield, junior; Julian Segar-Reed, midfield, sophomore; George Shaw, defense, senior; Jack Miller, defense, senior; Raushan Temirov, defense, senior
• Key newcomers: Mohamud Hussein, forward, junior; Joel Atutor, forward, senior; Vilhelm Erik Gustan, midfield, senior
• Outlook: After a season without seniors, the Seahorses used 2014 as a rebuilding and learning campaign. And it might pay off this fall. “Last year, we were trying to get these kids to play together and get along and now we are so far ahead of where we were,” Demasi said. “Expectation is high and team chemistry is much better than a year ago.” While the team needs a proven scorer or two to develop, the strength is in the midfield, with Makuni and Segar-Reed.
• Opener: Tuesday at U-32
• Coach: Katie Mack (second season)
• Last season: 12-4-1; lost to South Burlington in Division I semifinals
• Key returnees: Cooper O’Connell, midfield, senior; Trey Tomasi, defense, junior; Brock Werner, defense, junior
• Key newcomers: Todd Boisjoli, midfield, senior; Aidan Johnson, goalie, freshman
• Outlook: While the Redhawks lost seven starters to graduation, three of the four returning players roam the back line. A key question, rather, will be filling the offensive void left by Richard Baccei and Max Brown, both of whom tallied 10 goals apiece as seniors a year ago. O’Connell and Boisjoli are versatile players, which should let Mack vary her formations on a game-by-game basis if necessary. “I think because we lost so many seniors, everyone is feeling accountable to achieve our goals,” Mack said.
• Opener: Thursday vs. Rice at Essex tournament
• Coach: Dennis McCannell (23rd season)
• Last season: 10-4-2; lost to Essex in Division I quarterfinals
• Key returnees: Patrick Desmond, defense, senior; Andrew Lynch, defense, senior; Brendan Hinman, defense, senior; Chris Zamarripa, forward, senior; Cameron Smith, forward, senior
• Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
• Outlook: Although they lost goalie Liam Mooney to graduation — he was a two-year starter who helped the program to the 2013 title — the Lakers return three key defenders and experience in the attack with Zamarripa. “Overall, young team this year made up five seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman,” McCannell said. “(It’s) a season where each game will be a learning experience, building a learning curve (and) laying the foundation this season …”
• Opener: Tuesday at North Country
• Coach: Jake Orr (first season)
• Last season: 14-3-1; lost to South Burlington in Division I championship game
• This season 1-0
• Key returnees: Danilo Salgado, defense, senior; Brennan Goodrich, defense, senior; Aidan Whitney, midfield, junior; Matt Lyon, midfield, junior; Hamza Halilovic, midfield, junior; Noah Ferris, forward, senior
• Key newcomers: Tristan Salgado, forward, sophomore; Kirk Teare, defense, junior
• Outlook: Taking over his former coach’s program, Orr, a 2010 Essex graduate, has a nice mix of talent on a team that should remain among the Division I and Metro contenders. Danilo Salgado, a captain, and Teare, a high-level snowboarder who spends his winters in Colorado, should help offset the loss of Ryan Jewell, who left for prep school. Ferris and Tristan Salgado have already shown a scoring punch in the Hornets’ 2-0 win over Mount Anthony on Saturday. “When you lose guys it hurts, but when you have other guys and a lot of good athletes, you can fill those holes,” said Orr following the defections and graduation from the 2014 D-I finalist squad.
• Up next: Thursday vs. Rutland at home tournament
• Coach: Glen Button Jr. (14th season)
• Last season: 10-4-2; lost to Green Mountain Valley in Division II quarterfinals
• Key returnees: Eric Menard, defense, senior; Colby Gay, forward, senior; Ryan Brown, forward, junior; Cam Goodrich, midfield, sophomore; Devon Mullins, defense, senior; Spencer Marquis, defense, junior
• Key newcomers: Carson Bianchi, forward, sophomore
• Outlook: The loss of Twin State players Ryan Stinson and Nick Goodrich will hurt but the Yellowjackets have enough firepower to compete again in Division II. Menard is a four-year starter in the back and Brown, Milton’s leading scorer as a sophomore, is also returning. “We will look to get better each time we step on the field,” Button said. “We have good senior leadership and a talented bunch of younger players.” Milton’s schedule includes nine games against D-I opponents.
• Opener: Tuesday at South Burlington
• Coach: Phil Jacobs (24th season)
• Last season: 5-9-2; lost to Mount Anthony in Division I quarterfinals
• Key returnees: Will Bowen, midfield/forward, senior; Oliver Sloan, defense, senior; Kieran Bhave, midfield, senior; Mason Bouffard, defense, junior
• Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
• Outlook: Only four players with experience are back in the fold for Jacobs. That includes Bouffard, a key central defender, who missed much of last year due to injury. And Bowen should be a factor in the Cougars’ attack. “Defensively, we have been working on finding four guys who work well together, are good defenders,” Jacobs said. “We are getting there, we are really close. I think we will be competitive.”
• Opener: Tuesday vs. Hartford
• Coach: Matt Gazo (third season)
• Last season: 17-1; defeated Woodstock for Division II championship
• Key returnees: Leland Gazo, goalie, senior; Nate Cary, forward, senior; Clay Scott, midfield, senior; Sam Dickin, midfield, junior; Evan Rouleau, back, sophomore; Louis Gazo, midfield, sophomore
• Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
• Outlook: The Green Knights lost seven players to graduation, three-fourths of their starting back line and their top two goal scorers. But Rice has made the move to Division I for the tournament. “We wanted to move up for the challenge, we want to be in the best division,” Gazo said. Rice does have some key pieces back — all-state goalie Leland Gazo, who will also kick for the football team, Rouleau anchoring a young group of defenders, and Cary, among those asked to bear some of the scoring responsibilities.
• Opener: Thursday vs. CVU at Essex tournament
• Coach: David Martin (sixth season)
• Last season: 16-1; defeated Essex for Division I championship
• Key returnees: Mark Simendinger, back, senior; Mike Flaherty, back, junior; Will Graham, back, junior; Ben Lambert, midfield, junior; Patrick O’Hara, midfield, sophomore
• Key newcomers: Amza Issa, midfield, sophomore; Amerlin Nemaye, forward, sophomore; Rakesh Subedi, midfield, sophomore; Penzin Choedak, midfield, freshman
• Outlook: After a dramatic state-championship victory to cap the program’s “greatest season ever,” the Rebels graduated 11 seniors, nine of whom were starters. That includes Free Press player of the year Aiman Ginawi as well as Ismail Temirov, who’s playing at UVM, and Alex Pasanen, hero of the finals win. “We definitely will field the most inexperienced team in the state and we hope to be good enough to host a first-round playoff game. It’s a rebuilding year for sure,” said Martin, adding that this is the 50th year of Rebel boys soccer. Simendinger and Graham anchor the defense and O’Hara is one to watch in the midfield.
• Opener: Tuesday vs. Milton
• Coach: Stephen Feiss (fourth season)
• Last season: 6-9; lost to Thetford in Division III playdowns
• Key returnees: Eh Man, forward, senior; Jibril Abdullahi, defense, senior; Ball Wit, midfield, senior; Eddy Lamson, midfield, junior
• Key newcomers: Abdullah Abdulaziz, midfield, senior; Nishan Pokwal, defense, freshman; Mowtes Ibrahim, defense, freshman
• Outlook: The Spartans have a strong core returning — Abdullahi, Man and Wit have been with the program since sixth grade. That experience and chemistry has Feiss excited for a strong campaign. “They should hopefully be able to hit the ground running at the beginning of the season, allowing us some sustained possession of the ball,” Feiss said. Man, a senior, is one assist shy of the school’s career record.
• Opener: Tuesday vs. Craftsbury