Looking to add "three-peat" to their Sectional title history, the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knight boys varsity soccer team is revved up for a stellar 2011 season.
"We're looking forward to the season," said head coach Scott Wall of his team of five seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen. "We're getting antsy. We're anxious to get all the practicing over and get on with the competition."
The loss of stalwart seniors, Jared Lantz, Justin Cooper, and Waylon Rosenlieb to graduation last year will no doubt leave holes in the starting line up which Wall and assistant coach Matt Kinnard hope to fill with returning players of the same caliber.
2011 Silver Knight Varsity Soccer
Returners to the team include three seniors who have been part of the frenzied success of the past three years: Skylar Kinnard, Chris Postlethwait, and Jeremy Smith. Kinnard returns as the starting goal keeper and captain; Smith will share captain duties, retuning as a mid-fielder; and Postlethwait is back as a strong defender for the Knights.
"We're going to be leaning heavily on these three," the coach said. "They've all worked on their game in the off season, and it shows in their strength on the field. Skylar will stay in goal for us throughout the season, because that's where he shines. Chris was a heck of a defender for us last year and with the growth he's shown, he'll be a threat for us again in that position, and with Jeremy's speed and quick decision making, he's going to see time at midfield as well as some forward."
Returning with experience as juniors to the team are: Brandon Frey, Scott Sole, and Dustin Tawney. Frey returns to his slot as a defender, but fans of the game can expect him to shoot as well since he is the leading returning scorer on the team. Sole joined the team for the first time last year, but quickly earned a starting defender spot. His overall quickness may open up midfield positions as well. Another defender, Tawney, has grown in both ability and size since his freshman season and looks to be a real asset to Knight starting line-up.
"Our juniors are strong, and that's going to aid us more than anybody knows,"Wall said. "They look solid, are more comfortable with the ball, and have an insiders knowledge of the game that will only help them as the season progresses.
Four of the five sophomores on the team return after their first year on the soccer fields of the Ohio Valley as freshmen: Matthew Goudy, Dylan Reynolds, Dylan Romine, and Chase Cornell. Romine returns as the "go-to" guy in the midfield with good ball handling skills and quick decision making abilities. Goudy also returns as a quick midfielder as does Reynolds. Cornell returns to the forward position for the Silver, but is more than likely to see time near the goal, powering the ball in for the score.
"These sophomores all performed very well as freshmen last year, and any success we have this year will have a lot to do with them," the coach said. "There's passion for the game in these guys and they're team players, which is exactly what we're looking for."
New to the Knight line-up this season is a mix of all classes, each joining the team for their own reasons, but quickly becoming part of the solid team effort which brings success to this program season after season: seniors - Nik Keller and Tanner Buchannan; junior - Mario Mantecon; sophomore - Nathan Heintzman; and freshmen - Blake Carpenter, Jacob Stackpole, Austin VanDine, Nathan Kemp, Ty Klages and Zach Haught.
"It's always great to add new faces to the team every season," Wall said. "That means we have the type of program that kids want to be a part of, and that's a positive for us. Our new guys have shown that they're willing to work hard, and they're striving to learn the ins and outs of the game. They're all assets to the team."
"We like our numbers, it's good to have a mix of returners and new guys. Everybody learns this way, the returners learn leadership, patience and compromise, and the new kids are gaining knowledge of the game and skills. It's team building at it's best."
Knight soccer fans in-the-know can look for shots on goal coming from Frey, Romine, Goudy, Reynolds, Smith, and Cornell this year to be sure, but should not be surprised by new comers Mantecon and Heintzman taking the opportunity when given.
"We're not lacking in scorers," Wall said. "And that's a good thing."
Last year, the Silver Knights recorded a season record of 12-7, were seeded seventh in the OVAC tournament and took the Sectional tournament for the second year in a row. This season, the team looks to record more wins, take the Sectional as well as the Regional in order to secure a berth in the West Virginia State High School Soccer Tournament.
The teams strength will lie in the experience of 10 returning players, a nice mix that already knows the game plan and have bought into the "we can" attitude. Their weakness, if any, is the lack of real game experience and inside knowledge of the new comers to the team. "But we're working on rectifying that situation as quick as possible," said the coach. "We are finding cohesion as a team. Hopefully by the first week of play, everything will come together."
"We value trying to play soccer the right way, build our attack, solid formations, not just running around on the field willy-nilly not knowing where the other guys are and running and gunning."
Asked why he thought the soccer team has seen the success it has over the past couple of years, Wall was quick to answer. "The value of hard work is underestimated," he said. "We work very hard on every aspect of the game from field conditions, to play to overall understanding of what we want to achieve and how to go about it. And add to that the support of the school staff, the parents of the kids, our fans and the community, and it all equals success. Our parents and fans are second to none. They're exceptional and this team thrives on their support. They give us a chance, no matter what, every time. And that's half the battle."
The 2011 soccer season begins for the Silver Knights on Aug. 20 at John Marshall High School. The team will play their first home game on Aug. 23 when they host St. Clairsville at 5 p.m. at Burgbacher Field in Middlebourne.