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

FORSYTH CENTRAL

Coach: Ross Walker, eighth season

Last season: 6-12, 4-6 in Region 7-AAAAA

Key returners: D Grant Butschek, sr.; MF Anel Ramic, sr.

Key newcomers: MF Adrian Sanchez, soph.; D Connor Crocco, fr.

Outlook: After a tough year that saw the Bulldogs finish under .500 for the season, Coach Walker and his team look to right the ship in 2014. Although the bulk of the team will be relatively young, returning seniors Grant Butschek and Anel Ramic will provide Central with leadership on the field. Younger players like sophomore Adrian Sanchez and freshman Connor Crocco will look to take advantage of another year of seasoning and contribute where possible. Walker views his midfield to be a real strength of the club and is excited about the mix of young and experienced players at his disposal. An increase in offensive production is a priority, but with steady development throughout the season, the Bulldogs hope to challenge for a spot in the region playoffs.

LAMBERT

Coach: Chris Wilson, fifth season

Last season: 16-4

Key returners: GK Jake Nelson, sr.; D Sean Langley, sr.; D Logan Willis, sr.; D Zac Davis, sr.; MF Cooper Coughlin, sr.; MF Nikki Cafferatta, sr.; F Mitch Fandos, sr.

Key newcomers: MF Cameron Reaves, fr.; MF Eoin Griffiths, fr.; F Zane Ziegler, fr.

Outlook: Coming off of a highly successful 2013 season and with 13 upper classmen returning for another year, things are looking good for Lambert. The squad is jam packed with seniors at every position, from goalkeeper Jake Nelson and defenders Sean Langley and Logan Willis all the way up to forward Mitch Fandos. To go along with the wealth of experienced talent, the Longhorns will be welcoming three incoming freshman who will also vie for playing time. Coach Wilson is confident in the maturity and experience of his team and is expecting his squad to build on the established tradition of the program and develop as a team over the course of the season.

NORTH FORSYTH

Coach: Jeff Jager, second season

Last season: 1-16-1

Key returners: Ryan Herbert, sr.; Jeff Michaud, jr.; GK Alex Hanson, sr.; GK Javier Ramirez, jr.; Brandon Herbert, sr.

Key newcomers: Holt Roberts, soph.; Alan Garcia, fr.; Brandon Willingham, fr.

Outlook: With only a single win last season, North Forsyth will have every opportunity to improve in the coming months. With nine returning starters and 10 seniors expected to be on the club, the Raiders look to have one of the most experienced teams in the county. Leading goal scorers senior Ryan Herbert and junior Jeff Michaud will head the offensive charge while the goalkeeping tandem of senior Alex Hanson and junior Javier Ramirez will serve as the last line of defense. Younger players like freshmen Alan Garcia and Branson Willingham will undoubtedly receive helpful tutelage from their many older teammates. Coach Jager wants his team to take on an aggressive and fast-paced attacking style that will help create more scoring chances. If the Raiders can put last season’s disappointments behind them, Jager believes that his squad will be able to surprise their opponents and be competitive in the county and region.

PINECREST ACADEMY

Coach: Christopher Kane

Last season: 7-5-2

Key returners: D Alex Brenner, sr.; D Patrick Houlihan, sr.; MF Michael Houlihan, sr.; F Stephane Rivard, jr.

Key newcomers: MF Lucas Perez, soph.; F Rico Victoria, jr.

Outlook: After a year away from the program, Coach Kane returns to lead a Paladin team that is fresh off of its first playoff season since entering the GHSA. With only two starters gone from last year’s team, the Paladins will look to continue their winning ways in 2014. The defense will be anchored by returning seniors Patrick Houlihan and Alex Brenner while the offense will rely on the attacking tandem of juniors Rico Victoria and Stephane Rivard. Kane believes that his team’s dangerous speed will keep opponents wary in the attacking third, but still feels that their ability to possess the ball could improve. After finishing third in the region last year, Pinecrest hopes to improve on that mark this season and make some noise in the state playoffs.

SOUTH FORSYTH

Coach: Tom Braun, 10th season

Last season: 13-6

Key returners: D Juan Sanchez, sr.; D Drew Witalis, jr.; MF Owen Christiansen, jr.; MF Ryan Peppenhorst, jr.; MF Lucas Clari, sr.

Key newcomers: GK Michael Komornik, soph.; D Zach Reynolds, fr.; D Scott Nearing, soph.; MF Noah Byrne, soph.

Outlook: Last season was certainly a success for South Forsyth as they made their third straight state playoff appearance. To ensure that the streak continues, the team will need to rely on the experienced players found in the defense and midfield, including junior defender Drew Witalis and senior midfielder Lucas Clari. Despite being new to the team, sophomore goalkeeper Michael Komornik will look to play a big part on the defensive side of the equation. Coach Braun praised his young men for their hard work and great attitudes and hopes that their offensive attack will refine as the season goes on. If all goes well, this War Eagle squad will duplicate last season’s winning formula and find themselves back in the state playoffs once again.

WEST FORSYTH

Coach: Ahmed Gathing, first season

Last season: 10-8

Key returners: MF Cameron Macer, jr.; S John Newman, sr.

Key newcomers: GK Jacob Allen, jr.; GK Alex Jue, jr.; MF Sam Roe, jr.

Outlook: First year head coach Ahmed Gathing will look to make his mark on a West Forsyth boys team that finished last season with a winning record. Junior midfielder Cameron Macer and senior striker John Newman will both headline the team and play important roles this season. The Wolverines will have to combat some inexperience on the defensive side of the field while breaking in two new junior goalkeepers, Jacob Allen and Alex Jue. Coach Gathing understands that some positions will have to overcome problems with inexperience. However, he is confident that the depth and experience at other key positions on the field will allow the team to be competitive in the tough schedule games that await them. If the team matures steadily over the course of the season, West hopes to challenge for one of the top four spots in the region.

— Taylor Gantt, For the Forsyth County News