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Boys soccer preview: Returnees boost boys soccer hopes for state qualification

 

August 30, 2016

BOYS VARSITY SOCCER team members are, in front, from left, Alonso Perez, Ramon Mateo and Oscar Hernandez. In the second row, from left, are Noah Dinsfriend, Rowland Lupoli, Rawlins Lupoli, Austin Stevens, Wesley Parker and Austin Parrish. In the rear, from left, are Sean Wolthuis, Quinn Dinsfriend, Coach Huck Thomas, Head Coach Eric Stutzer, Tristan Graham, Brad Hilburn and Noah Webb.

Sweet Home’s boys soccer team lost a lot of seniors last year, but some outstanding returning players provide hope for the Huskies’ biggest goal: their first post-season berth.

Sweet Home finished fifth in the league last year, but it was a lot closer than that.

The Huskies ended their season with a reasonable shot at stopping seventh-ranked Junction City, losing at home 3-2, to finish 2-8 in league and 5-9 after a record-setting three-win start to the season.

They scored 26 goals this year, double their best past performance. They gave up 34 goals, half of their previous best.

In short, it was their best season on record, the closest the boys have ever come to the state tournament, and one of those players, Nick Rodgers, is now playing at Corban University.

The reason why the Huskies should be optimistic is who they have returning from last year’s team.

“We got Alonso Perez back,” said Coach Eric Stutzer. “We thought we lost him to Texas. That makes a big difference.”

Perez, a senior, is a returning All-League Second-Team starter, Stutzer said. Perez has bulked up, and he’s more contemplative as a soccer player. He was one of the team’s leading scorers, and he makes things happen.

“He’s very, very talented. He’ll probably stay in the center midfield position,” Stutzer said. He’ll see some defense as well.

Ramon Mateo, a senior, also returns as another good scorer, Stutzer said. “Like Alonso, he can play every position.”

He can do a lot up front, Stutzer said, but he’ll play keeper too. He may win league honors this year.

Mateo is ultra-aggressive, which is why he’ll play up front where he can draw fouls and create opportunities, Stutzer said. Nearly every score last year involved a Mateo assist.

Rawlins Lupoli is back after a four-game season last year. He broke his leg in the first game and was unable to return until the final game.

The Huskies will use him on defense, Stutzer said. He may be stronger in midfield, but the team needs a quick, smart defender.

“He’s a whole package. He’s only a junior.”

Junior Rowland Lupoli, Rawlins’ twin brother, will be the starting keeper this year, Stutzer said. He’s matured a lot, and he can handle the weight of the position, and no one can come close to his impact in the goal.

“His kick is so much stronger,” Stutzer said. He can put the ball over midfield, and he can score from the forward position.

Senior Quinn Dinsfriend will return as an asset to the Huskies, Stutzer said, and newcomer sophomore Austin Stevens will have an impact like Egan Shamek, who graduated last year.

Freshman Austin Parrish is talented, with good ball control, Stutzer said. He’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Senior Tristan Graham returns as a solid player, Stutzer said. Senior Sean Wolthuis is new to the team but played when younger. He’s strong, in good shape and will be an asset on defense.

The varsity is rounded out by senior Oscar Hernandez, sophomore Noah Dinsfriend, senior Wesley Parker, sophomore Brad Hilburn and junior Noah Webb.

The junior varsity includes Levi Hernandez, Grayson Johnston, Andrew Baham, Cedar Paris, Jayce Owen, Jarett Owen, Evan Davis, Zerin Owen, Austin Parrish, Austin Stevens, Brad Hilburn and Noah Dinsfriend.

The team has talent this year, Stutzer said, but it’s lacking the depth it had last year.

“We’re kind of a wild-card sport,” Stutzer said. “We have the ability to take off from where we were.”

That depends on staying healthy, believing in themselves and coming together as a team, he said. The team will be competitive with the bottom half of the league, but it will find it tough going again this year against Sisters and Junction City.

Junction City had talented German exchange students last year, but its younger players had a chance to mature with them, Stutzer said. He expects the Tigers to be tough.

Cottage Grove has new players and a new coach this year, so it’s difficult to tell how well that team will do, he said. The Huskies should have won games that it didn’t against Cottage Grove and Elmira last year. Both of those teams will be a wild cards, although he thinks Sweet Home will be comparable to Elmira.

The Huskies should be competitive against Sutherlin, he said. The Huskies also play teams before league that they should be able to compete with.

“I think the talent is there,” Stutzer said. “Again, we’re kind of a wild card. We graduated eight seniors last year.”

This year’s team is stepping into their roles, he said.

“They’re quick and skillful. They’re very skillful. You’re not going to see a lot of brute force. We don’t have the size.”

Instead, the Huskies will play with more finesse, working the ball and keeping it moving, Stutzer said. “It takes a lot of mental discipline. We have a lot of potential this year, but a lot of that depends on which team they choose to be.

“I’m excited about the season, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

The Huskies’ style is team-based, and they will have to come together as a united force to succeed, he said. If they can do it, Stutzer thinks they can make it to at least the play-in game.

“We can do what we need to to win games,” he said.

BOYS JUNIOR VARSITY SOCCER team members are, in front,Levi Hernandez, Grayson Johnston and Andrew Baham. In the middle are Cedar Paris, Jayce Owen, Jarett Owen, Evan Davis and Zerin Owen. In back are Austin Parrish, Austin Stevens, Coach Huck Thomas, Head Coach Eric Stutzer, Brad Hilburn and Noah Dinsfriend.

On Saturday, the Huskies competed in a jamboree at South Albany.

The varsity lost to Central 4-0, Stutzer said. They struggled on defense, but in the second game, playing iron man, they tied South Albany 1-1 without Mateo and Quinn Dinsfriend.

South Albany is a playoff-quality team, Stutzer said. Central is equally strong.

“Very good day against South Albany,” Stutzer said. “Should have been better against Central. Lots of unnecessary errors.”

 
 
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