The time has come for area boys soccer teams to take to the pitch again.
Plenty of teams are looking to build off last season as the majority of the teams in the Star Beacon’s coverage area were playing with young rosters, leaving only one team with a winning record in 2012.
That team, Geneva (8-7-2), loses 12 lettermen while most area teams return the core of their team.
Following is breakdown of each team in the Star Beacon’s coverage area and how their coaches feel about their respective team’s chances.
Coach Rich Shields returns for his fourth season with the Spartans, who are coming of a 6-9-2 campaign in 2012.
Conneaut loses just four lettermen from last years team and returns six seniors who lettered last season — Dylan Campbell (midfielder), Dillon Griswold (defender), Kyle Sprinke (midfield), Mikey Teed (midfielder), Tommy Webb (goalie) and John Mannion (midfielder).
That group comprises half of the returning lettermen as junior midfielders Andrew Gibson, Tommy Manning and Jake Spees return as well as sophomores Kirk Jennings (midfielder), Tyee Stewart (forward) and Hunter McClintock (defender).
“In each game, we need to get out and control the ball,” Shields said. “A key to success for us this season is to maintain possession of the ball. With each possession our goal is to move the ball, make runs and create high percentage shot opportunities.
“We have an experienced group with an overall season goal of advancement in the state tournament.”
Conneaut remains without a conference and will play as an independent.
However, Shields said he looks forward to squaring off with the Spartans Ashtabula County rivals.
“Although we are not in a conference, we look forward to our rivalry games against county opponents,” he said. “We have games against Edgewood, Lakeside and Geneva. We expect competitive games with each of those opponents.”
Through strong play, Shields hopes his team catches the eye of a conference that will be interested in adding Conneaut.
“Our goal is to play strong and turn some heads with the hopes of an invite into a conference in the near future as we are the only school not in a conference for miles and miles,” he said.