On paper, it appears to be a season of change across the Washington County high school boys soccer scene.
In the end, the more things change, the more they could stay the same.
Without question, some new names will be garnering headlines this season after 13 of last year’s 15 Herald-Mail All-County First Team honorees graduated — although the 2010 Player of the Year, Broadfording’s Andrew Torres, should keep piling up the goals.
In addition, both North Hagerstown and Williamsport are making the leap to higher classifications — the Hubs moving to 3A from 2A, and the Wildcats to 2A from 1A.
But will the county public schools tournament and MVAL Antietam titles change hands? North won both last year, while Williamsport finished second in the Antietam race. The Hubs and Wildcats appear poised to challenge for both titles again this season.
“Our guys are really focusing on this county tournament, and they feel if they don’t win it, it will be a letdown,” said Williamsport coach Chris Downs, whose Wildcats lost two all-county first-team players but return three other first- or second-team honorees. “The spirit is up, the chemistry is there, it’s as good a preseason as we have had.”
“It’s going to take us a little bit to mature as a team,” said North coach Glen Singer, whose Hubs lost four all-county first- or second-team honorees but return a solid core led by all-county second-team striker Ryan Byard. “Hopefully as the season progresses, we’ll rise to the challenge.”
Michael Long’s first season in charge of the Warriors was a rough one, as Boonsboro finished 1-12-1 last year and scored just six goals.
“The biggest challenge last year was getting the boys to understand the style of play I wanted to play,” Long said. “We just didn’t have that killer instinct to finish matches off, but by midseason we were playing well.”
Midfielders Charles Anoman, a returning senior, and Connor Prunty, a freshman, will have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders as the primary playmakers. They’ll be looking to set up senior strikers Josh Haden and Brandon Redman.
“Connor and Charles, their distribution is going to be key,” Long said. “We have a lot of speed up top with Josh and Brandon. ... I’m cautiously optimistic about the results we may be able to get this year.”
Senior goalkeeper Devin Bellerive has three returnees helping him out on the back line — senior Lee Manolopoulus, junior Rusty Kopp and sophomore Devon Fairhall.
David Grimm’s Lions had a banner year in 2010, winning the Mason Dixon Christian Conference tournament title and finishing second in the Maryland Christian School Tournament on the way to a 19-4 final record.
Andrew Torres scored 37 goals last year — topping the county by a wide margin — and already has four in the Lions’ first two games this season.
“Andy’s been a little bit in the spotlight, so I worry he’ll get marked a little heavier this year,” Grimm said. “We do have some other strong finishers, so even if we drop Andy into the midfield, he’ll get opportunities.”
Twin brother Michael Torres is the Lions’ anchor in his defensive midfield role, where his two-way play setting up the attack as well as stymieing opposing offenses is critical.
“He’s just as talented as Andy. He’s kind of like the backbone,” Grimm said. “He has so many assists and is so strong back there.”
Washington County Boys Soccer 2011: Things change, but may stay the same
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