banner

 

August 25, 2007

 

Season of change for IAC boys’ soccer

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It is a season of change in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference with as major shift in the power structure as the ever-growing Lansing Central School District has been bumped up to Division I starting this fall. The trickle-down effect has Watkins Glen moving into Division II and Newfield drops down to Division III.
Division I will now feature Dryden High, Lansing, Elmira Notre Dame, Newark Valley, Trumansburg and Waverly. Division II has Candor, Elmira Heights Edison, Odessa-Montour, Spencer-Van Etten, Tioga and Watkins Glen. Division III houses Groton, Marathon, Moravia, Newfield, Southern Cayuga and Union Springs.
What does this all mean as the boys begin their soccer season Tuesday? A lot tougher road for the Division I Purple Lions who went 19-1-1 in 2006, but graduated 13 players. Still, another challenging run for the Division III Olympians and Indians. Marathon has graduated 13 players from its 18-2-2 squad and Groton lost some very talented players as well from its 8-10 team that reached the Section IV Tournament.
Dryden will travel to Marathon Tuesday for an IAC crossover opener while Groton will host Trumansburg in crossover action. Both games have 4:30 p.m. start times.
Below is a look at the three local teams:
Dryden Purple Lions (19-1-1 overall)
Coach: Lazlo Engel
The Purple Lions were 15-0-1 in IAC play, capturing both the Division I and overall titles as well as advancing to the Section IV, Class B championship game. Dryden lost 3-1 to Oneonta at the Wright National Soccer Campus in Oneonta in the sectional final.
“We are a young team this season,” said Engel. “This is a very hard-working group. We have good team chemistry and I think we will steadily improve as the season goes along. I really think we should do well and, hopefully, we will peak when the post-season arrives.”
Heading the list of returning players are seniors Nick Lange and Dylan Luce. Lange was a first-team all-star defender in 2006, but Engel says that he may move to midfield this season. Lange is just one of several players who can play at different positions and does give Engel some flexiblility.
Luce scored 14 goals in 2006 and returns to the forward line in 2006.
Also returning are senior defenders Trevor Totman, Justin Sinnigen and Curtis Greene, senior midfielders Will Edgecomb, Pat Streeter and Billy Pargh; and senior goalkeeper Thomas Weaver.
Moving up from the JV ranks are juniors Carl Beno (MF), Ben Eck (MF), Joshua Piger (Def.), Sam Hodgeson (D) and Mark Durkee (GK), along with sophomores Justin Niziol (For.), Tim Scheftic (Def.), Mark LaLonde (For.), Chris Jenne (GK), Dan Holland (For.) and Andrew Horton (MF).
New faces from the senior class are Stephen Johnson (forward-goalkeeper) and Joe Gray (midfield).
Dryden has a home-and-home crossovers with Marathon and Union Springs this season, plus crossover games with Groton, and Moravia.
“This is a very strong division,” Engel said. “Lansing coming into the division will help us and them as far as sectionals.”
Groton Indians (8-10 overall)
Coach: John D’Antonio
The Indians are another young team, but have some very good returning talent.
“We lost a lot of experience,” said D’Antonio. “We are young and we have guys that will have to step into new roles this season. The team is enthusiastic about the season, should keep improving and will play hard. We will be a scrappy team and are striving to return to sectionals again this season.”
Heading the list of returning are all-star caliber players like senior goalkeeper Kyle Yunger, senior midfielder Matt Parsons and senior defender Dan Gray, the three captains for the 2007 team. Junior fullback Josh Grazul is another returnee with a bunch of varsity game experience.
Also returning are juniors Jimmy Miller (Def.), Zane Gray (Def.), Cameron Adams (MF) and Charles Pratt (MF), along with sophomore striker Austin Tompkins.
New to the varsity ranks are senior Justin Martin (MF); juniors Josh Thornton (Def.) and Nathan Steinford (Def.); and sophomores Logan Wannall (MF) and John Hilker (MF).
Groton may have the toughest crossover schedule with home-and-home matches against Trumansburg and Odessa-Montour, plus single games against Dryden and former Division III rival Lansing.
“Marathon should be tough again,” said D’Antonio. “Southern Cayuga and Union Springs will be good teams while Moravia is a young team. Newfield is an unknown, but they have a new coach who really knows soccer in Terry Habecker, who used to coach at Ithaca.”
Marathon Olympians (18-2-2 overall)
Coach: Chip Stewart
The Olympians returned to the state semifinals in 2006, only to fall in a penalty-kick shootout after a valiant effort. Gone are 13 players, including eight starters (five being all-stars), from that squad, but Coach Stewart has a solid defensive unit returning this fall.
“This will be a lot different this season,” said Stewart. “We are looking to reload this season, but we do return a good core of seniors and a good nucleus overall. A lot of our success will depend on how the young guys come along. I really expect us to be in games this season, even though we will not be as high a scoring team as last year.”
Heading the returnees are senior captains Aubrey Brown, Jason Luce and Matt Doran. All three are all-stars with Brown beginning his fourth season on the varsity, Luce and Doran are back for their third seasons. Brown is one of the best defenders in the IAC with Luce at midfield and Doran at midfielder or striker.
Also returning are seniors Kasey Bush (Def-MF), Shane Koenig (Def-MF) and Vinnie Powierski (striker-GK), along with junior midfielder Matt Frost.
Moving up from the JV ranks are juniors Dylan Barber (Def.), Mike Jones (Def.), Adam Lantry (Str.), Eric Gofgosky (MF-For.), Brian Gurewich (MF-For.) and David McDonald (MF-Def.); plus sophomores Doug Whitney (Str.), Josh Lincoln (MF-Def.) and John Robinson (MF-Def.).
Three players did not play in 2006, but have returned for the 2007 season. They are seniors Cody Bellefleur (Def.), Derek Root (GK) and junior defender Steve Birdsall.
Rounding out the team are two first-year players. Those two are junior forward Justin Hoffert and junior defender Dan Morehouse.
Marathon has a home-and-home crossover with Dryden and Newark Valley this season, plus crossover games with Trumansburg and Spencer-Van Etten.
“I am not sure if the new alignment helps us in soccer,” said Stewart. “We lose playing a strong Class B team in Lansing, who is a nice rivalry game for us. I always liked playing against them because of their coach Adam Heck. We do add a Class D team in Newfield. There really are a lot of young teams in our division this season.”