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BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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Forsyth County News

BOYS SOCCER

Forsyth Central

Coach: Will Gifford, second season.

Last season: 3-12-1

Key returners: D Connor Crocco, Jr.; MF/D Luis Morales, Sr.; MF Adrian Sanchez, Sr.; F Conner Hicks, Sr.

Key newcomers: D Uriel Romero, Soph.; MF Aldair Manriquez Romero, Jr.

Outlook: Little changed for Forsyth Central in the standings last season in Will Gifford’s first season, but close observers of the team noticed an encouraging difference in the quality of play, particularly the individual development of players. And most of those are back, led by a trio of seniors in Conner Hicks, Luis Morales and Adrian Sanchez. Team speed is the biggest thing going for the Bulldogs; they can run for days on both ends of the pitch. Gifford wants to see a more concerted effort on the defensive end this season. “I believe we are positioned to improve on last year’s performance,” Gifford said.

Lambert

Coach: Chris Wilson, seventh season.

Last season: 14-5, lost in first round of Class AAAAAA playoffs.

Key returners: Andrew Bartle, Sr.; MF Dean Bogarde, Jr.; Alek Christensen, Sr.; F John Conahan, Jr.; GK Nicholas Coward, Sr.; Brandon Crouch, Sr.; GK Avery Dekshenieks, Jr.; D Peyton Dressor, Sr.; D Gabe Fontana, Jr.; F Eoin Griffiths, Jr.; Jacob Merrill, Jr.; MF Mac Shirley, Sr.; MF Jalen Williams, Sr.; F Zane Ziegler, Jr.

Key newcomers: F Chase Boston, Jr.; F Davis Eddleman, Fr.; D Christian Girard, Soph.; D Trey Hines, Fr.; D Jay Patterson, Fr.; D Nathan Shalom, Jr.

Outlook: Lambert is brewing with optimism. Perhaps it’s from returning the team’s top two goal-scorers in Mac Shirley and Zane Ziegler. Perhaps it’s from returning senior goalkeeper Nicholas Coward who made 62 saves last season. Perhaps it’s from returning seven starters in all off last season’s team. Head coach Chris Wilson believes there’s something to this group. It’s experienced, with 13 upperclassmen, and deep, with several newcomers capable of making significant contributions. “In every way we expect this to be a great year from the first whistle till the last,” Wilson said.

North Forsyth

Coach: Drew Fowler, second season.

Last season: 2-13.

Key returners: MF Jose Boyzo, Soph.; D David Landino, Sr.; MF Carlos Pedraza, Jr.; GK Austin Ray, Sr.; MF Holt Roberts, Sr.

Key newcomers: D Brock Arbeiter, Soph.; MF Adrian Resendiz, Fr.; MF Lucian Tinsley, Soph.

Outlook: Consider this: North is in the midst of a 29-game losing streak in region games dating back to 2013. Among the more frustrating of North’s troubles last season was closing out games, like in 1-0 losses to Lanier, West Forsyth and South Forsyth and a 3-2 loss to Alpharetta. Second-year head coach Drew Fowler says last season’s team made marked improvement, and this season’s has good senior leadership from defender David Landino, goalkeeper Austin Ray and midfielder Holt Roberts. “The expectation is to always work hard and play hard,” Fowler said, “and this group has shown up knowing that.”

Pinecrest Academy

Coach: Domenic Martelli, first season.

Last season: 10-4, lost in quarterfinals of Class A playoffs.

Key returners: D Michael Birozes, Jr.; D Stuart Jeans, Jr.; MF Lucas Perez, Sr.; D Dom Piron, Jr.; F Ben Rivard, Soph.; MF Gabe Villar, Soph.

Key newcomers: MF Kane Alvarez Del Pino, Fr.; F Connor Sassine, Fr.

Outlook: No team went further in the state playoffs than Pinecrest Academy last season in reaching the quarterfinals, where the Paladins lost to eventual Class A state champ Atlanta International School. But no county team may have more to replace than Pinecrest, particularly Logan Hamilton, the FCN Boys Player of the Year last season, and goal keeper Luke Del Balzo, among others. Still, there’s talent for first-year coach Domenic Martelli to work with. Sophomore forward Ben Rivard broke out for 11 goals and 10 assists last season as a freshman. Sophomore center back Stuart Jeans was the Paladins’ anchor on defense. Pinecrest might be more of a work in progress than past seasons, but the work could pay off by the time the state playoffs come around.

South Forsyth

Coach: Tom Braun, 12th season.

Last season: 2-15.

Key returners: MF Noah Byrne, Sr.; D Ryan Fierle, Soph.; F Adrian Garcia, Soph.; GK Walker Haymond, Soph.; D Ryan Lessard, Jr.; F Jordan Pelletier, Jr.; MF Trey Tanjuatco, Jr.

Key newcomers: D Chris Mendleson, Soph.; D PJ Mollenauer, Fr.; MF Andrew Shah, Fr.; MF Gray Sizemoe, MF.

Outlook: Last season’s tumble by the War Eagles ended a string of four straight appearances in the state playoffs. The good news is South returns a healthy dose of talent, led by senior midfielder Noah Byrne, the team’s most valuable player and a team captain last season. Braun likes the chemistry this group is playing with early on, but, still, the question will be whether South can manage to put pressure on opposing defenses; the War Eagles scored just eight goals in 17 games.

West Forsyth

Coach: Jason Bayush, first season.

Last season: 7-9.

Key returners: MF Freddie Hackney, Sr.; GK Leo Swanger, Sr.; MF/D Zach Williams, Sr.

Key newcomers: MF Nick Alba, Fr.; MF Carlos Reyes, Soph.

Outlook: The Wolverines might have had the most frustrating season of all county teams last year when they went 3-6 in Region 6-AAAAAA as five of the team’s six losses were by one goal. Now, girls coach Jason Bayush adds the boys team to his duties with a roster full of inexperience. Senior midfielder Freddie Hackney is the most prominent returner; he had four goals and four assists last season, but elsewhere the Wolverines are counting on a largely untested group. “Once we get a few games under our belt, I think that we can be very competitive,” Bayush said.