WHERE ARE THEY NOW
August 10, 2012Rossville Middle High School
Hornets look to use youth, speed: Must replace top three scorers
Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 5:26 pm, Thu Aug 9, 2012.
ROSSVILLE – In watching a Rossville boys’ soccer team practice, it’s obvious fairly quickly that this year’s Hornet squad is much quicker than last year’s 1-15-1 team.
However, the little scoring Rossville was able to put together last year (18 goals in 17 matches) has to be replaced. Its three leading scorers from 2011 – Justin Baker (six goals), Aron Long (4) and Kirk Holden (4) – have all graduated.
Whether or not that speed translates into on-field success depends on how quickly the 10 freshmen and sophomores that populate the roster get used to game speed.
“The biggest learning curve will be the six freshmen understanding the game’s going to be a lot quicker,” said Rossville head coach Joel Wilson. “With the limited amount of subs, they’re going to have to play a lot of minutes and work hard the entire time. All the freshman coming in have good soccer experience and a lot of them have played together through travel soccer. We’re just hoping to get all 11-12 guys together. As long as we can have the endurance for the full 80 minutes, we’re really going to do well.”
Sophomore midfielder Zane Gottschalk is the Hornets’ top returning scorer with two goals. But with the Hornets opting for a 4-5-1 formation this year, much of the scoring will fall on sophomore Austin Higbie up top, whom Wilson says has shown flashes of potential in preseason practices.
Wilson opted for a 4-5-1 formation in part to adapt to the personnel on the field.
Anchoring the Hornets this season will be senior goalkeeper Eli Wilson. Wilson is the only senior and will be the team’s starting keeper for the third straight season. Wilson is confident the Hornets can be better than last year.
“It’d definitely be great for my senior year,” Eli Wilson said. “We definitely have to come together a lot more, being a younger team. We definitely have the talent to do it; it’s (about) bringing it all together and picking up the speed of a varsity sport.”
The defensive back four is where the Hornets will be at their youngest, with sophomore Jacob Taylor and three freshmen – Jayden Rosen, Mauricio Ayala and Kraig Tumey.
“The back is where we’re a little bit questionable,” Joel Wilson said.
The midfield has the bulk of that speed the Hornets possess, with freshman Griffey Saylor, freshman Zach Soiseth, Gottschalk, freshman Jeremy Wiegand and sophomore Cory Hufford.
Gottschalk will be the main ball-handler in the center-mid spot while Hufford has impressed teammates and coaches on the outside.
“Cory has made a huge, huge step,” Eli Wilson said. “His shot has definitely improved. He’s putting it in the upper 90s and hitting it with some speed. Zane’s coming back along with Austin Higbee. The sophomores are definitely moving up, filling the forward void.”
Joel Wilson said to look for Soiseth and Saylor to play vital roles offensively.
“All of those guys will be able to move around,” he said. “Austin’s going to be a big key. He’s really come around as far as his ball skills and footwork. Cory’s shown tremendous growth on the outside with his crossing and even his shot. I think you’re going to see about anybody willing to pull the trigger this year. I’m excited about that.”