EATON — Eaton boy’s soccer is hoping to be able to get over the hump this year. Last season, they finished fifth in the Southwest Buckeye League’s Southwest Division and they hope to catch some teams off guard this go-around.
“We are looking at the middle of the pack with Monroe, Oakwood, and Bellbrook being ahead of us. We played them tough last year so hopefully we can beat them this year,” said second-year head coach Eric Kiracofe. “That’s been our focus all season. We want to try and catch one of those guys off guard and hopefully end up in the top half of the SWBL.”
That task won’t be easy, as the Eagles lost their leading goal scorer and four-year letter winner Austen Alexander to graduation.
“The biggest problem is that we have to replace Austen Alexander who has just been a phenomenal player for us for the past four years,” said Kiracofe. “We have to find someone to score for us. He was our scorer for the past four years, so we have to find someone to find the back of the net.”
Kiracofe doesn’t expect just one player to step up though. The Eagles main focus this pre-season has been on the aspect of teamwork. It will take total team effort to compete with the top tier teams of the very competitive SWBL.
The Eagles hope to encompass that philosophy as they host plenty of experience on a roster that holds 11 seniors.
“I am going to rely on a lot of them for leadership,” said Kiracofe. “We have a couple of younger guys who are stepping up too – a couple of sophomores who are really going to lead this team not just this year but hopefully the next couple of years.”
Those two sophomores are defender Daniel Howard and forward Connor Gowanny.
“They’ve really both stepped up this year and are trying to be leaders. Hopefully I get a lot out of them,” added Kiracofe of his young players.
Eaton is returning two senior starters, goalie Austin Sampson and mid-fielder Matt Sullender.
Andrew Kiracofe, Josh Chandler, Jacob Couvutsakis, and Justin Welcome are returning juniors to the squad as well.
Rounding out the rest of the starting line-up is forward Matthew Brooks, Justin Bristow, and Alex Johnson.
Eaton opened up their season at home versus Preble-Shawnee on Tuesday. They host Edgewood on Saturday before having their first away game against league opponent Franklin on Tuesday, Aug. 26.