Boys soccer: Husky boys return experience, but roster numbers are thin


September 1, 2021

Provided photo

Boys soccer team members include, in front, from left, Boden Sayer, Tison Monahan, Jack Simmons, Evan Towry, Cooper McKinnon, Ben Tolman and Christian Justham. In rear, from left, are Chris Christman, Caleb Christman, Assistant Coach Rawlins Lupoli, Head Coach Eric Stutzer, Assistant Coach Rowland Lupoli, Max Klumph and Gavin Gardner.

Sweet Home's boys soccer team returns seven starters as they strive to get into the win column this season.

Returning from last season's starting squad are junior defender Mason Lopez, sophomore defender Max Klumph, junior midfielder Caleb Christman, junior defender Chris Christman, senior midfielder Joseph Hiemenez, sophomore midfielder Ben Tolman, and junior goalkeeper Evan Towry.

There are 15 players on the Huskies roster currently, and they will only field a varsity team if numbers hold. The roster includes six freshmen, one sophomore, five juniors and three seniors.

Rounding out the team are seniors Greg Farrell and William Hawken, junior Cooper McKinnon, and five freshmen: Gavin Gardner, Christian Justham, Tison Monahan, Boden Sayer and Jack Simmons.

The Huskies finished 0-8 in last spring's shortened season.

"I think there's a lot to be optimistic about," Head Coach Eric Stutzer said. "We have a good group of freshmen, some seniors this year back that we weren't expecting, and a really good core of sophomores and juniors that are going to be difference makers."

In non-league play, before league contests start on Sept. 16, the Huskies will face Junction City, Klamath Union, Elmira and Portland Christian.

"I think that in all of those games, we can be very competitive, if not win," Stutzer said. "It's just a matter of overcoming the COVID couch potato syndrome and having people ready to play."

"We've had a lot of people that have been out on vacation or haven't been practicing because of school functions. And so getting everybody to be cohesive and unified is going to be a big deal moving forward."

He said that in league play, "We might be able to sneak up and surprise someone." He noted that the team played very evenly with Sisters last year, and said that he thinks Cascade "might also be partly vulnerable."

"But it's kind of a crapshoot to see what happens from there," he said. "We're going to have to play really well. And we're going to have to take what we did in the preseason and really build on that when we get into league play."

The team has been practicing since Aug. 16, and their first game is scheduled at Junction City at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 31.

Stutzer said the team has been focusing on team unity in practice and trying to get players to build relationships and trust with each other, as well as technical aspects of the game.

"We're not going to be able to do anything tactically until we can really start implementing the things that we've learned technically," Stutzer said.

As far as season goals, Stutzer said "I'd really like to take our whole preseason. I don't know how practical that is at this point, but I think those are all winnable games."

"I think we can have some really good competition with a couple teams in our league," he said. "And there's a couple where we're going to have to play pretty well to be successful with."

"If you look at the statistics last year, the ingredients are there, it's just a matter of putting everything together," he continued. "A lot of that's going to come with maturity and experience. And just COVID in general is going to be a factor in that, whether we can stay healthy or not."

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He also said he wants to start to build for next year.

"I'd like to see us really come out of the gate next year and have a strong summer performance," he said. "Maybe get into a summer league, and then be ready to hit the pavement running with our group of juniors that will be seniors next year, because that is going to be a really productive class. I think that they can pull out some really awesome wins."


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