WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South’s soccer team looks to improve their game for 2016. Last year’s 6-8-1 record saw a lot of close matches which fell short of victories for the Panthers.
Several players graduated in 2015, most notably, first team All-CCC player Ethan Wells. Aaron McKee and Jacob Huddleson earned all-conference selections as well. But the cupboards are not bare in West Alexandria, and the team aims to show it.
Coach Clay Young is in his first year at Twin Valley.
“Most of their games were very close last year,” Young said. “We are trying to focus on fundamentals this year so that we can win more of those close games.”
Young himself played at Carlisle for all four years of high school and has continued the sport each year up to this point.
Seventeen players man the Panther roster. Junior Jacob Wells returns as the leading scorer from last season.
“He was first-team All-CCC, so we are expecting big things out of him. Senior Zach Guehring is our goalkeeper, he’s been playing pretty well this preseason so we have the experience to win more,” Young said.
Wells is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“I think we’ll be a lot better than last season,” he said. “We’ve been working on our triangles and passing a lot more. I want us to do better in the league, and overall. We are an older team this year so we have experience.”
Team captain Guehring is eager to show his game in his senior season.
“Last season was the first time I played a lot — didn’t play much in my sophomore year,” Guehring said. “I’m a goalkeeper now, I’ve practiced at it a lot more and spent the off-season working on my conditioning and reacting to the ball. I’ve had to learn how to see the field with my peripheral vision so that I’m more aware of who is where on the field and the potential dangers of opponents where they are close to the net.”
Seniors Daniel Page, Jacob Jackson, and Jesse Woods look to make the most of their final season at South. Joining Wells are juniors Travis Lovely, Hunter Bennett, Ian Kurtz, Bryant Marker, Jacob Denlinger, and Jimmy Mullins. Sophomores Logan Cook, Thane Class, and Jake Byrne will also join the team.
Some new faces look promising for the Panthers. Freshman Christopher Keener is a bright young player who is looking strong in the preseason practices.
“Keener plays defense,” Young said. “He’s really quick and we are hoping to have him tied into our opponents’ best players and keep them in check with Keener.” The other two freshmen are Aaron Clark and Grant Collins.
“Our concept is defense. I think if we get the ball enough, we will get the shots to win,” Young said. “But we really want to keep the ball in our possession as much as possible. We’ve been focusing a lot on defense and keeping in shape. We’d like to have a bit more in numbers but in a small school, 17 is ideal.”
According to Young, Franklin Monroe is the team to beat, as is Miami East.
“Bethel is tough,” Young added. “If we can keep the games close, lock down the ball defensively and stay in shape, we should be able to match up against them.”
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH.