The Valley boys’ soccer season looks to be very competitive this year and the three Augusta County schools are looking to be in the thick of the race.
The Indians lost just two players to graduation and have 11 seniors returning from last year’s 9-8 squad that was fifth in the district.
Seniors Lane McAllister, an-all district and all-conference goalkeeper, Ian Thibodeaux, 19 goals last season, and forward Jordan Brooks, 10 goals last year, lead the returnees. The Indians also return their entire starting defense in seniors Lucas McAllister, Kris Cleveland, Garnett Andes and Josiah Marsh. Other seniors include forward Ivan Cortes and midfielder Hunter Davis.
“Most of our games took place in our defensive third last year and this group (defense) keep the number of goals against down,” said second-year Indians’ coach Dave Marsh. “I credit them and my keeper (Lane McAllister) for keeping us in games.”
With a senior-laden squad the Indians’ experience and their defense are their strengths. Marsh sees all the teams in the district as contenders.
“If this team could bond together as a cohesive unit they would be remarkable,” said Marsh. “Unity is a make or break factor this year. There has been a lot of soccer growth in the area and any team not growing quickly will find itself at the bottom of the barrel.”
The Little Giants have a solid nucleus returning from last year’s 6-8 squad.
The returners include Burke Bender and Ryan DeMarmels at center backs, Chandler Showalter, Zach Washburn and Nerio Teran at midfield and utility player Tanner Dellett-Wion.
“All of our graduated seniors are missed,” said veteran coach Dale O’Steen, entering his third-year as head coach and 13th year overall with the Little Giants. “They all helped with the cohesion of the team and integration of the newest players.”
O’Steen likes his team’s attitude. “I think that our biggest strength is the team’s excitement about this year’s lineup and their willingness to try new things if the old is not working,” he said. “Our assistant coach, Alex Farrington, and I are excited about the depth of our bench this year and it will be our goal to help this team work and think as one unit.”
Robert E. Lee
Five key players were lost to graduation from last year’s 5-10-1 squad.
Junior Hunter Otteni, 14 goals, two assists, first-team all-conference and all-region, leads a group of seven returners for the Leemen. Seniors Nick Tehrani, two goals and one assist, Kyle VanHoy, five assists, and Tyler Smith, one assist; juniors Jay Dixon, two goals, Jose Reynadi, two goals and two assists, and sophomore Alex Lightner, three goals, round out the veterans.
Despite the youth of the team, third-year Lee coach Holmes Tehrani likes his team’s talent. “We have many talented freshman who play travel teams and we have a core group of players from last season,” he said. “We are a young team and need to get to know each other very fast to mesh better.”
Tehrani sees Turner Ashby, Harrisonburg and Waynesboro as the teams to beat in the district. “We are hoping to have a winning season and be ranked higher in the district this year and to be competitive in every game, even against bigger schools,” he said.