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Transfer talent provides boost to boys soccer program

 

August 29, 2017

BOYS VARSITY SOCCER team members include, in front from left, Levi Hernandez, Owen Towry, Rowland Lupoli, Rawlins Lupoli and Noah Webb. In back are Head Coach Eric Stutzer, Eric Blanchard, Stewart Curtis, Carlos Galvez, Austin Parrish and Coach Huck Thomas. Not pictured is Andrew Baham.

An interruption in the supply line for new high school boys soccer players had coaches Eric Stutzer and Huck Thomas thinking they might be in a rebuilding year after the Huskies lost some key seniors to graduation.

They were pleasantly surprised to get two transfers, Owen Towry, a freshman from Washington, and Stewart Curtis, a junior from Texas, who join their lineup this season. Rather than being depleted, the boys look like they will have the skills necessary to compete in the Sky-Em League this season.

Graduating seniors were Alonso Perez, Ramon Mateo, Wes Parker, Oscar Hernandez, Tristan Graham, Quinn Dinsfriend and Sean Wolthuis.

The team returns seniors Rowland Lupoli and Rawlins Lupoli.

“I think that you’re going to see some really good stuff out of Rowland and Rawlins,” Stutzer said. Rawlins Lupoli is team captain and was at the top of voting for first team all-league last year. “He’s solid wherever we put him.”

He can play anywhere, Stutzer said. He’ll play defense and step into midfield at times.

Rowland Lupoli will play keeper, Stutzer said. With some help from Towry at goal, Lupoli will be able to spend some time on defense and mid as well.

“I’m extremely excited about Stewart Curtis,” Stutzer said. The transfer student will work midfield. “He’s a prototype soccer player.”

He said Curtis and Towry are both players who could do well if they were at Sisters, a powerful soccer team that has managed to win every league game for about five years – until last year when the Huskies tied the Outlaws.

Along with returning sophomore Austin Parrish, who will be key in midfield, they fill in holes left by graduates Mateo and Perez, Stutzer said. Instead of rebuilding this year, they could help the Huskies maintain their momentum. In each of the past two seasons, the Huskies have posted their best records in school history.

They finished last year 5-7-3 overall and 4-4-2 in league, improving their Oregon Student Activities Association ranking from 39th to 20th by the end of the season. They finished the regular season third in the Sky-Em League, before losing to 4A power North Marion in the state play-in round.

To keep the team moving forward, “they’re really going to have to come together and find some cohesion (fast) rather than having years to do this,” Stutzer said.

Returning varsity players also include junior Levi Hernandez and senior Noah Webb.

New varsity players are athletic senior Eric Blanchard and sophomore Andrew Baham, Stutzer said. They also have Carlos Galvez, an exchange student from Spain.

“He looks like he might be a contributor,” Stutzer said. He has the technical skills.

The varsity squad isn’t set yet. On junior varsity at this point are several returning players, senior Ronald Wilson, junior Evan Davis, sophomore Jarett Owen, sophomore Jayce Owen, sophomore Grayson Johnston, senior Daniel Batchelor and senior Zerin Owen.

New to the team and on JV initially are senior Colby Montigue, senior Zech Brown, senior Luke Shiffert and freshman Jaxsen Brown.

The team doesn’t have its forward game established yet, Stutzer said. The Huskies can go either offense- or defense-heavy.

The Huskies also may use “an attacking mid strategy,” Thomas said.

“The big thing for us is depth,” Stutzer said.

The program could use another six to eight players to field full varsity and JV teams with enough subs, Thomas said.

That shortage is being fueled by a gap of up to five years in soccer programs for younger players.

The AYSO soccer program is in place now, but for a time after the Boys and Girls Club dropped soccer, Sweet Home youths didn’t have soccer programs, Thomas said. The coaches are looking to this year’s fifth-graders to provide the next wave of substantial numbers of experienced players.

The team has just two freshmen this year,” Stutzer said. “We’re darn lucky we got the exchange student and two transfers.”

They thought that problem was going to really hit this year, but they’re hopeful for this season.

“We have a really good group of kids,” Stutzer said. “I’m excited about what we’ve got. The potential is there. The ability to be competitive is there. It’s just seeing what they do with it.”

The Huskies have a desire to learn, he said. They’re eager to improve. They’re respectful, and they’re showing the best unity and cohesion he’s seen for this team.

“I think it’s still a wild card because of the depth issue,” Stutzer said. The skills are there, but the team needs more players.

The JV will suffer this season with few subs available, he said.

The league itself “is a real wild card,” Stutzer said. “Sisters is always Sisters, but they graduated some talent.”

Malachy Sundstrom was a key loss for Outlaws, Stutzer said. Sisters, ranked No. 1 at the end of the regular season last year, lost several others, but they’ll return talented players too.

Cottage Grove, which finished fifth, had a coaching change, Stutzer said, and he doesn’t know what to expect there.

BOYS JUNIOR VARSITY SOCCER team members include, in front from left, Ronald Wilson, Judah Christman, Evan Davis, Jarett Owen, Jayce Owen and Grayson Johnston. In back are Head Coach Eric Stutzer, Colby Montigue, Zech Brown, Luke Shiffert, Zerin Owen, Jaxsen Brown and Coach Huck Thomas. Not pictured is Daniel Batchelor.

“Elmira’s going to be strong,” Stutzer said. “They were No. 2 in league (ranked 12th statewide) last year.”

Stutzer is unsure of Junction City and Sutherlin, which finished fourth and sixth respectively last season.

The Huskies played a jamboree at South Albany Saturday. They were scheduled to face South Umpqua Tuesday night, Aug. 29.

From there, they move into a tough schedule at home against Tillamook on Sept. 5, at Douglas on Sept. 7 and then on the road against the defending state champion, Newport, on Sept. 12.

 
 

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