Returning the majority of their players from the third best defense in the state last year, the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knight boys varsity soccer team looks to possibly make history this year, by finally moving past the Regionals.
"We're looking to go somewhere this year," said veteran coach of the team, Scott Wall. "We are returning a core group of skilled players and that should give us some confidence going into touch matches."
The Knights lost six experienced seniors last year in goal-keeper, Skylar Kinnard, Jeremy Smith, Chris Postlewait, Johan Aasland, Nik Keller and Tanner Buchanan to graduation, which will leave holes in their line-up, but ones that can be filled with underclassmen ready to step up.
Returning seniors on the team include: Brandon Frey, (2nd team All-Valley, 1st team LKC and honorable mention OVAC last year); and Dustin Tawney and Scott Sole (both honorable mention LKC last year).
"These guys are going to continue to anchor our defense along with our goal-keeper, Nathan Heintzman this season," the coach said.
Juniors returning to the soccer field for the Knights are Dylan Romine (selected 1st team All-Valley, 1st team OVAC, 1st team LKC and honorable mention All-State last year); Dylan Reynolds, Matthew Guody and Chase Cornell.
"Dylan Romine will have a more prominent role in the offense this year as he move out of the defense," Wall said. "and Reynolds, Goudy and Cornell are all very experienced and will be expected to help lead the squad on the offensive side.
Back with experience as sophomores this season, along with the goal keeper, Heintzman are Nathan Kemp, Ty Klages, Blake Carpenter, and Austin VanDine, the majority of whom will be counted on to fill holes left by last years seniors.
New to the team for 2012 will be junior Austin Souders; senior, Mitchell Higgins; and freshmen, Adam Cooper and Marcus Nichols, all likely seeing time as midfielders and forwards.
"As a team, we look to continue our winning ways and finish the season with a winning record for the fifth year in a row," Wall said. "We're also looking to not only make it to the OVAC Cup Tournament, but also to advance in that tournament."
"Our Section has grown with the classification change (from class AA to A), but we look to get ourselves in position to defend our title as Sectional champions."
The coach believes his teams' strength lies in the experience the athletes bring to the team and their familiarity with each other. "This is a good group of kids who have played this game together for years. They play well together and read each other very well, which is a plus in this sport."
"We have decent speed and a great nucleus of players with skills that should help us be competitive all season long. I look forward to seeing these guys continue to develop and tap into the potential that they have."
Back with the team, this time on the coaching side of things is Knight alumni/new assistant coach, Jesse Lenz, who Wall says will be an asset to the program.
Pleased with how his team looked in two pre-season scrimmages, Wall said he is excited to get the season underway.
The Silver Knight boys hosted their first home game on Tuesday when they played host to John Marshall, and on Aug. 23, the team will welcome the Magnolia Blue Eagles to Burgbacher Field at 5 p.m.