The Boonville Pirates soccer team will go into the 2018 season with one goal in mind: to have a better record than last year.
While finishing 10-19 overall and 7-4 in the NCMC under head coach Kaz James, the Pirates may very well achieve their goal with 27 players and four starters back from the 2017 season.
“We were 10-10 last year and the boys have set a goal to be 13-6 this fall,” James said. “We know this will be tough as our schedule is difficult. I would like to also see the younger players grow as individuals and get better each game.”
Although the Pirates will compete as an independent this season, as the Tri-County Conference has only two other teams with soccer in Southern Boone and Osage, James said the biggest thing for this group is to stay positive and not be negative towards each other this year.
“There will be challenging things that come our way, but we want to stick together and work it out as one,” James said. “We graduated a big senior class, so a lot of people will have to step up and do more on the field.”
As for the strengths of the team this season, James said it will be off ball movement and creating different runs and being creative. She said this group is young but they are hungry and ready for the season to start officially on Monday against Mexico.
“Our weaknesses will be having lower numbers and not a lot of depth and having a younger group with not a lot of varsity experience,” James said. “With that being said, we have two goals this season. We want to have a better record of 13-6 and not allow 33 goals. The boys will have to work day in and day out. It is a long season, but I have high hopes for the boys to get the job done.”
James said the motto “Young and hungry” also fits this team well this season. She said being a young group the boys feel they have a lot to prove considered they lost a big senior class and talent.
“This group has been working hard since we started the first day of practice and I am hopeful they will continue that drive and determination,” James said. “I like seeing certain players step up and hold each other accountable. The last couple of practices have been awesome and I like the intensity of the practices.”
James said this team will also be split on goals and playing defense. She said it might be more of a defensive year for the Pirates but also wants the players to attack as much as possible and not hold back and take advantage of their opportunities when they are in front of the goal.
With that in mind, James will count on approximately 13 players to see varsity time for the Pirates this fall.
Junior Gabe Lorenz will play goalie this season for Boonville after playing in the field in 2018. James said Lorenz does an awesome job at goal and has the height and ability to react quickly in the goal. “Gabe’s distribution from the back will help us,” James said.
Of course Lorenz won’t be all alone in the back this fall. James said she will play anywhere up to six defenders throughout the season. Leading the way as a defender for Boonville are senior Aidan Stark, juniors Jake Horst, Ryan Dority, Sam Esser, Quin Gentry and sophomore Gabe Greis.
James said Esser and Gentry could also see some playing time as a midfielder.
Here is what James had to say about the defenders:
“Stark is our strongest defender in the back and is not afraid to take charge. He clears the ball out well and does not get pushed off the ball easily. He will be a key player for us in the back line with having the most experience. He plays dangerous balls on free kicks which will also help us a lot this season.”
“Horst is a player that moved up this year and has shown great things at practice,” James said. “He has been a great leader in the back and is very vocal. He is not afraid to yell and organize everyone in front of him. He also has great stamina and works extremely hard in the back.”
“Dority is another player who will also get some varsity minutes. He is another player that puts in the extra work to better himself. He is a smart defender and understands the game well. He connects out of the back and looks to keep possession for us.”
“Esser will be converted into a defender, either a center back or outside back. He has picked this up fairly quick and I am excited to see him excel in the defense. Sam has a natural instinct as a defender and gets stuck in on tackles. He is stong on the ball and does not get pushed around easily.”
“Gentry is another player I can move around and will excel in whatever position. Quin is a smart defender, reads the field well by distributing out wide, and keeps possession. He is a strong player in the air and has good skills when getting out of traffic.”
“Greis will be in his first year with the varsity group and will get some minutes this season. He has an awesome work ethic. He reads the field well in the defense and knows when to step and when to stay home.”
At the midfield position, James will look to juniors Aaron Witting Josh Chrisman and sophomore Jimi Barbarotta. While finishing with two goals and one assist last year for the Pirates, James said Witting will be playing outside mid.
“Aaron is a returning starter and will be a big piece in our attack,” James said. “Aaron has a good left foot and is able to shoot from distance. He has great speed up top and is able to run onto the ball and get crosses for us on the outside. Aaron has stepped up and has been vocal at practice with the younger boys. As for Josh, he is very good in the air and wins the midfield.
“He is an awesome defender and keeps people in front of him. His work ethic is what sticks out the most on the field. Jimi, meanwhile, will be in his second year with varsity. Jimi is able to play outside mid or attacking mid. When he is playing as outside mid, he is dangerous when he gets outside the box and looks for the back post on his crosses.”
James also has freshman Austin Coleman playing both the midfield and forward position this season. She said Coleman is the only freshman that will be starting on varsity this season.
“Austin is a very skillful player and will create a lot of chances on goal,” James said. “He has good speed and is dangerous when running as players. His work ethic is something that I have noticed through the summer and in practices.”
Also playing the forward position this season are senior Tyler Schuster and juniors Alejandro Vivas and Will Rehagen. Vivas finished the season with one assist last year while Rehagen returns after finishing with five goals and three assists.
James said Vivas will be playing up top this year. “Alejandro is very technical on the ball and will create opportunities for us going to goal,” James said. “He has a decent shot from the outside the 18 yard box. Al can also be moved to other positions and help other places if needed. He is a player that likes to go at you and be dangerous.”
As for Rehagen, James said will be key in the attack.
“Will is a player that will put in the work off the ball and find the open spaces to break free from the defenders,” James said. “Will has a lot of different moves he likes to use when going at players. He is a player with a lot of finesse. As for Tyler, he is an awesome leader for us on and off the field. He is always wanting to learn more about the game and stays in engaged. He has great speed up top to run onto the ball and go to goal.”