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Vikings plan to be NCC contenders - HERALD PRESS

August 9, 2012
Huntington North High School

Vikings plan to be NCC contenders


By John Dempsey sports@h-ponline.com | Wednesday, August 8, 2012



After tearing his ACL in the first match, Huntington North senior Isaac Wust, in orange, is back on the field for the boys soccer team. He was the team's leading scorer as a sophomore.


Ask Steve Saddington about the Huntington North boys soccer team and he will tellyou he has a solid, team of juniors and seniors with a strong offensive focus.

“We have a lot of returning players with 13 back from last year’s team,” he said.

Yet, it’s a team that he’s got some questions about the Vikings.

“We had some senior role players that are going to be hard to replace. They weren’t flashy but they did the job. We kind of took them for granted,” the coach said. “That makes me appreciate the job they did.”

After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first game of 2011, Isaac Wust is back at full strength for his senior campaign.

“He was our leading scorer as a sophomore and we’re excited he’s back.,” Saddington said. “He is going to be one of our stronger scorers. Isaac is creative with the ball. He can control and handle it. He knows what to do and how to finish.”

With Wust back on the field, the coach believes the Vikings are very strong offensively.

“He’s our best player by far and our objective is to set him up to score. When Isaac has the ball, it’s our best shot. But, I don’'t want to be completely one-dimensional,” he said.

Helping take pressure off of Wust at forward will be classmate Trey Bowling, who started out as a defensive player, but has moved up the field over the years..He protects the ball well, but Tristan also has a good finishing ability that he’s proven recently,” Saddington said.

Among the eight seniors returning are Mitch Mullens, Mitchell Schneider, Barik Hiple, Ethan Gordon and Jordan Gilliam. Five juniors, Tristan Smeltzer, Tyler Henline, Dylan Wilson, Landon Underwood and Eric Fruit , are also back from last season’s 9-7-1 team.

Junior Chad Wingo is back after missing much of the season with an injury while Cole McCune is a transfer student and Brad Young joins the varsity after playing JV last season. Jordan Hersey, a sophomore, is new to the team along with freshmen Trey Sorg and Aaron Webb.

Inexperience is a concern on the back line.

Junior Tristan Smeltzer started at sweeper last year, but with the new formation, he’ll probably also be a midfielder. “He has a lot of speed and took care of a lot of our defensive mistakes just by getting back,” the coach said.

“Plus we’re trying a new formation so that makes us vulnerable there. Tristan is our only starter back, but I feel comfortable with Landon and Ethan filling that role.,” Saddington said. “We might drop Mitch Mullens there or Cole, if he’s not in goal. I feel confident in our three defenders and I’m looking for a fourth. There are a handful of people who can fill that spot.”

At center midfield, Schneider is entering his third season as a starter and may be joined by Sorg, who has good ball control. A left-footer, his biggest strength is his ability to distribute the ball.

“Our center midfield might be more technically sound in passing the ball, but one is slower and the other is a freshman, which might make us vulnerable, but in distributing the ball he might be the best we’ve got,” Saddington said. “Schneider is more of a dribble first player and I’d rather see a pass first guy.”

The offensive threat comes with the forwards and wings. Henline can go at forward or outside wing while Hiple, Gilliam and Fruit are wings.

“We have four we can rotate on the wings so we have some depth there. There’s not a lot of depth at forward,” the coach explained. “Isaac will play almost all of the game and Trey will probably. too.

“Tyler’s not very big, but he knows what to do with the ball and has the capability of scoring. There’s more to him than what you would expect looking at him,” Saddington said. “Barik played last year for the fist time and his speed is his biggest threat.

In goal, Saddington has two very good options in Wingo, who started last year before he got hurt, and McCune.

“They’re different in their goal keeping style,” the coach said. “I’m confident both can play, but I haven’t made a decision yet on who will be the primary. If not in goal, Chad will be a midfielder and Cole would be a defender.”

The Vikings lost two key players from last season with Danny Becker tearing his ACL early in the summer and another player chose to concentrate on another sport.

Huntington North opens Tuesday at Fort Wayne Snider.

“That’s generally one of the top two or three teams we’ll play,” Saddington said.

One goal for the team is to win the North Central Conference title.

“We were third last year and we think we have a shot,” he said. “Logansport and Marion always field a solid team. The strength of teams has gone up.”

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