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2022 Boys Soccer Preview

Call it a rite of passage.

But it’s one of the things that Woodstock Academy boys soccer coach Paul Rearden enjoys about high school soccer.

“You can see the progression. You can see the kids who you hope will grow into the leadership roles do so which happens every year. We have two of the captains last year still with us so it’s great for leadership,” Rearden said.

This will be a veteran team for Rearden.

He has 16 seniors on the pitch.

That presents its own set of headaches as the progression of the team could be hampered a bit with the younger players fighting for playing time.

“It’s going to be tough next year with all of us graduating but I think we have a lot of potential this year. We’ve been playing together for four years so there should be good chemistry,” Page said.

There are also the inner battles being waged for playing time as the youngsters are pushing the veterans.

“For sure, especially in the midfield, because we have a lot of midfielders. We have a lot of young kids like (sophomores) Garrett (Bushey) or John (Bennett) coming in. Garrett plays on my club team and I know him really well. He’s a good player. People are going to be fighting for playing time,” senior Wyatt Robbie said.

The Centaurs lost 10 players from last year’s 7-9-1 team that included leading scorer Ty Morgan (8 goals), Ryan Odorski (4 goals) and Beltran Velasco (2 goals).

Rearden, however, doesn’t think the offense will take much of a hit.

“(Sophomore) Austin (Byer) looks really sharp as does Jeffrey (Phongsa). Max (Ferreira) looks fit again after being injured at the end of last season when he (5 goals) just started scoring goals regularly. We still have them and a couple of young lads coming up who I’m hoping will weigh in with a couple (of goals),” the Centaurs coach said.

The strength of the team exists in the middle with Bushey, Phongsa and Page able to distribute the ball.

Seniors Jack Marshall and Gabe Viau will also patrol the middle.

“I think we will have a lot of knowledge in the middle as well as some young boys. I think we’ve definitely improved over last year,” Page said.

Robbie will be a leader on the defense.

“I think it will be part of the strength of this team. We have a lot of midfield and defensive-minded players and a lot of chemistry,” Robbie said.

Seniors Ethan Craig and Baden Eaton will help Robbie keep opponents away from senior goalie Brian Jameson.

“I’m excited about that,” Rearden said of his keeper’s return.

Last year was a kind of return to reality.

The Centaurs had only played local teams in the 2020 season.

“The Covid year, with all due respect, didn’t give (his team) a true representation of what games would be apart from the Windham games. So, last year was an eyeopener especially the first away game at Ledyard. Now, that they have that in mind, they know what’s expected,” Rearden said.

He’s hoping for more than seven wins this season.

“We have to,” Rearden said with a smile. “With the talent that we have here, the core of this squad is strong individually. We just have to mesh together. They’re all getting along great. They came in and have done a couple of weeks of real hard work on the conditioning. There is great chemistry here, it’s just putting it together on the field.”