The Archbold boys soccer team has a lot of depth returning to this year’s team as they look to once again be one of the final four teams in the state in Division III.
The Blue Streaks made it all the way to state in 2015, falling in the state semifinal game to Canfield South Range, 1-0.
“Despite having a very deep roster in 2015, the 2016 squad is arguably even deeper,” said coach Sean Stewart of his team. “Our 2015 junior varsity squad was undefeated, and a number of those players (especially a large, talented incoming junior class) are ready for varsity soccer.”
They have a number of players back who will make a positive impact.
“Our returning varsity starters give us a solid core,” said Stewart. “Our defense returns three out of four players from a 2015 team that gave up only nine goals in 22 games. This includes seniors Kegan Ott and Jereme Rupp returning as fullbacks, and junior Denver Beck returning at center back. Senior Austin Welch returns in the center of midfield after an outstanding 2015 season in the holding role. We also return our 2015 leading goal scorer Kaiden Bedsole (Jr.), assist leader Josh Kidder (So.), and midfielder Lucas Yoder (Jr.).”
Welch was second team All-NWOAL last season, Bedsole was first team All-NWOAL, and Josh Kidder was also second team All-NWOAL.
There are also some members from the 2015 JV squad that will see varsity action.
“Incoming varsity goalkeeper Caleb Wooley (Jr.) has had a relatively solid preseason as he adjusts to the varsity level,” said Stewart. (Last season’s) varsity bench players are also ready to take on larger roles within the team, including 2015 letter winners Gerson Calderon, Jack Fisher, Andrew Hogrefe, Jared Kidder, Trevan Kindinger, and Luke McQuade.”
While the Streaks return many skilled players, they also lost some key athletes who were big in helping them advance to state.
“We lose four varsity players from our 2015 state semifinal team: forward AJ Short, midfielder Jeremy Lerma, defender Mike Weigand and goalkeeper Elijah Robison,” said Stewart. “They are certainly four talented players, but we are confident that (with) last year’s depth, players will be able to step into those roles.”
Archbold, who was the outright league champion last year, expects to challenge for the title once again.
“With two of our three top scorers returning and a good group of proven defenders, we feel strongly that this will be a very solid year for us,” said Stewart. “However, we definitely need to work hard to overcome the loss of some key players and leaders. We expect to contend for the NWOAL title, but know that Bryan and Swanton will be tough competition.
“From a tactical perspective, we expect to be a team that applies pressure, tries to control the middle of the park, and allows our players to be creative in the attacking third. We certainly would like to have another deep tournament run, but we are focused on taking the season one game a time and not overlooking any opponenets.”
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010