By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
High school boys soccer preview capsules for the 2023 season:
Head Coach: Ryan Conner.
Coaching Staff: Andy Straight, Ryan Dean.
2022 Record: 4-12-2.
Returning Lettermen (13): Alex Savukas, Jackson Gilmore, Jonah Shanholtzer, Hunter Kanouff, Ben Gallman, Nate Just, Parker Seitz, Coby Conner, Colin Dockman, Keegan Broyles, Colin Wilson, Jordan West, Griffin McMaster.
Lettermen Lost (7): Felipe Machado, Bennett Winkler, Christian Viant, Will Guzy, Nathan Balkissoon, Mitchell Ganzhorn, Mason Ganzhorn.
General Outlook: “We have many returning letterwinners, which gives us some experience,” Conner said. “The players have worked very hard this off-season. We have a close-knit group of players, who are very committed and very coachable. They believe if they continue to work hard and improve, they can improve their record significantly from last year.”
Head Coach: Eric Sway, 2nd year, 11-8-1 career record.
Coaching Staff: Jake Marzenski.
2022 Record: 11-8-1.
Returning Lettermen (10): Charlie Schweickert, sr.; Gavin Dunfee, sr.; Hans Seibold, sr.; Elijah Jurisch, jr.; Cooper Pausch, jr.; Sam Wright, jr.; Drew Pfost, jr.; A.J. Brock, soph.; Kade Rotter, soph.; Kyle Shelhamer, soph.
Lettermen Lost (2): Jayden Julian, Kenny Stoots.
General Outlook: The Red Devils return an exciting team. They will have to find some scoring to replace Jayden Julian’s graduated 37 goals, but there is talent there to share the burden in that regard.
“We have 10 returning lettermen from last season that will be starting this season that got valuable playing experience with our run to the district semifinals,” Sway said. “These players understand what needs to be done to compete again for a winning record in 2023.”
Forwards: Gavin Dunfee is a physical striker, who Sway said is “impossible to stop head on.”
Elijah Jurisch also brings a dynamic approach to the forward position.
“He will look to fill the scoring role that Jayden was for us last year. He has the ability to play any position and to put up huge stats, but it is his leadership on the field that means more.”
Midfield: Cooper Pausch has stepped into a role as the team facilitator and can have a “career season,” according to Sway.
Kyle Shelhamer started 20 games last year as a freshman and has the speed and ability to create.
A.J. Brock will play a defensive mid and also started nearly 20 games last year as a freshman.
“He is a physical player that wins the ever-important 50-50 balls in the midfield and his energy alone creates play.”
Senior Thomas Fusci brings speed and energy to the field and freshman Owen Overfilled will also be counted on for depth, as well as freshman Julian Russo and sophomore Trey Lamendola.
Defense: The entire starting defense returns in Hans Seibold, Sam Wright, Drew Pfost and Kade Rotter.
Pfost played 1,600 minutes last year, according to Sway’s calculations.
“The expectations are extremely high for our defense.”
Freshmen Gabe Weaver and Carmine Baran join the team and are expected to earn opportunities.
Goalkeeper: Charlie Schweickert is back after an award-filled junior season.
“The challenge to score on him will be great. He should have a season that will get him looks to play at the next level.”
Head Coach: Kevin Sisak, 11th year, 100-99-24 career record.
Coaching Staff: Kevin Brastine, Jacob Reuting.
2022 Record: 11-4-3.
Returning Lettermen (14): Caleb Brastine, Alec Grimm, Logan Lonzrick, Tucker Paull, Brayden Ronowski, Ben Stayer, Liam Waffen, Mitchell Adams, Cohen Allen, Luke Lonzrick, Cedric Martin, Gavin Phillips, Wyatt Rahe, Carter Waffen.
Lettermen Lost (4): Kyle Schoenbeck, Gavin Greene, Garit Greene, Ein Pierce.
General Outlook: “We will be a young team, but we won’t be short of skill,” Sisak said. “We have one senior (Tyler Ebie) that will provide us depth, and we will depend on a core group of juniors to lead.
“Coaches have made it clear that our expectations are high right now, and we are playing for this season. The style of play is expected to be a good balance between defenders, midfield and attackers. We want to defend tough, be skilled in the midfield and then quick and dangerous at the forward position.”
Forwards: Liam Waffen returns as one of the Falcons’ most skilled players.
“He can play anywhere, but he could produce goals up top. He showed a lot of promise facilitating and creating chances this summer.”
Mitchell Adams is a technically sound player, who received frequent playing time as a freshman.
“He is still developing and can grow into a strong striker for us.”
Freshman Nathan Folks is a newcomer that possesses great ball control.
“He has a knack for going at goal. We hope to see great things from him out of the gate this season.”
Midfield: Alec Grimm is an experienced player with leadership capabilities.
“He has a lot of responsibility because of his vision on the field.”
Brayden Rogowski is another player that will be leaned on for leadership.
“He has great playmaking abilities and is goal hungry this season.”
Logan Lonzrik is “pound for pound our strongest player with great feet,” according to Sisak.
“He can play anywhere and may be called on to switch positions based on our need.”
Cedric Martin brings a “great soccer sense” and is one of the Falcons’ best overall athletes.
“He can also play anywhere, but has recently found a home at center mid.”
Freshman Ethan Soler has quickly made an impression on Sisak.
“It is tough to take him off the field. He played nearly every minute in our preseason tournaments and makes an impact wherever he is. He is quick, plays great defense and has creative playmaking abilities.”
Gavin Phillips and Carter Waffen are described as “true soccer players,” by Sisak.
“These two will see a lot of varsity time and will raise the competition for our midfield spots.”
Defense: The sophomore trio of Cohen Allen, Luke Lonzrick and Wyatt Rahe are “tough, dependable and resilient.”
Hard to find three better adjectives for a defensive line.
“All three played big minutes this summer and showed consistency on defense. This is a strong core group of players to begin building a defense with.”
Ben Stayer and Tucker Paull will also get time this season.
Goalkeepers: Caleb Brastine returns as the starter after a very strong season a year ago.
“He should be a top-tier goalkeeper in the MAC.”
Freshman Cole Porter is a solid backup option.
“We expect him to learn and grow with Caleb.”
Head Coach: Theo Cebulla.
2022 Record: 7-8-1.
Returning Lettermen (8): Ethan Bittence, Preston Gedeon, Aaron Gissinger, Brody Justice, Ollie May, Onid Rinaldi, Aaron Rodhe, Tommy Wem.
Lettermen Lost (4): Cameron Edwards, Andrew Wem, Kyle Schaefer, Matt Robinson.
General Outlook: “We have a good core group of returners and enthusiastic newcomers,” Cebulla said. “We are looking forward to a productive season.”
Forwards: Ethan Bittence and Ollie May will likely be the team’s players up top.
“Ethan is a skilled and formidable player and will be one of our captains. He has a big boot and has been addressing his finesse game.
“Ollie is one of our hardest workers, putting consistent effort into improving the fundamentals. His finishing in practice makes me look forward to seeing him in a real game.”
Midfield: Returning starters Aaron Gissinger and Onid Rinaldi will spotlight the group.
“Aaron has a great motor, sturdy build and a defensive tenacity that will help. Onid looks to be a crafty and skilled player with a good eye for the game.”
Newcomers Andrew Mosier-Kassander and Jaxson Kieffer will also get time.
Defense: Aaron Rodhe, the team’s other captain alongside Bittence, is a dependable leader.
“He has a can-do attitude, with speed and strength to match. He is the most optimistic and positive player I have ever met, and I am thrilled to have him leading by example.”
Preston Gedeon is a tremendous athlete that continues to improve.
Tommy Wem is another returner to the back line, while newcomer Landon Sutton will fill in the final starting spot.
Goalkeepers: Brody Justice, who is 6-foot-9, brings size and wingspan to the position.
“He is a rare keeper. He can make a decisive difference in a game’s outcome.”
Newcomer Jayden Saylor also has height and quickness as the team’s backup.
Head Coach: Garyn Daniels, 4th year, 24-22-7 career record.
Coaching Staff: Nathan Harris, Ryan Casazza, Noah Locke.
2022 Record: 9-10-0.
Returning Lettermen (16): Adam Khan, sr.; Sam Lanier, sr.; Devin Hawthorne, sr.; John McKinney, sr.; Amir Spratt, sr.; Finley Clapper, sr.; Austin Housel, sr.; Micah Sheller, sr.; Ian Horak, jr.; Cole Christy, jr.; Finn Obraza, jr.; Max Kenworthy, jr.; Brian Dugan, jr.; Tommy Kenworthy, jr.; Simon Hassler, soph.; Simon Khan, soph.
Lettermen Lost (9): Charlie Martin, Alex Horak, Jake Fankhauser, Tyler Poluga, Dylan Walker-Petrella, Jayanta Datta, Ben Young, Hunter Morris.
General Outlook: “It is great to be able to return with almost two-thirds of the team from last season,” Daniels said. “We are very excited about the players that have taken a leap to fill some of the minutes vacated by our senior class. We intend to continue to play a style, where we attack with speed and technical ability that we have up front and play physical defense from the back.”
Forwards: Amir Spratt leads this group.
“He is blessed with a great blend of size, speed and strength. He should be one of the most dangerous attackers in the area.”
Spratt scored 12 goals and had nine assists last season.
The forward position is the deepest spot on the team, with Simon Khan and Cole Christy also bringing skill and depth.
“Simon has put together an impressive off-season, and he has returned stronger and faster, with the ability to dribble at back lines.
“Cole’s technical ability makes him dangerous on the ball and his competitive fire sets the tone.”
Austin Housel and Tommy Kenworthy are “two of the hardest workers on the team,” according to Daniels.
“Both have a knack for finding themselves in the right positions in front of the goal.”
Aiden Hills, a junior transfer, along with Sammy Snellenberger, will provide depth off the bench and bring speed and physicality.
Freshman Isan Roberts brings technical skill and passing, while AJ Dolan and Billy Carroll also provide depth at forward.
Midfield: Junior Finn Obraza returns as a starter to lead the midfield.
“He is a very gifted technical player, and he can play any ball on the field with his great passing.”
Simon Hassler improved considerably during the off-season after a strong freshman season.
“He is an engine in the middle of the field and is very dangerous with his runs.”
John McKinney is described by Daniels as a “towering presence.” On the field.
“In addition to being an aerial threat, he is very physical when going into 50-50 challenges.”
Owen Yeagley brings great composure and is able to maintain possession, while Ethan Nguyen is “relentless.”
Micah Sheller and Khalil Faiz will also push for time.
Defense: The Rough Riders lose their two center backs for the second season in a row, but overall, the defensive line returns five lettermen that played significant minutes.
Ian Horak and Brian Dugan will step into the starting roles at center back to anchor the line.
“Both players used the off-season to get stronger and are physical in the tackle. Ian has great skill in playing out of the back and Brian is always an aerial threat.”
David Hamilton will provide cover in the center as well.
At outside back, Max Kenworthy and Devin Hawthorne return as starters.
“Max came into his own last season and possesses great awareness. Devin is one of the best tacklers on the team.”
Finley Clapper will also see minutes, along with Aaron Watt and freshman Aaron McKinney.
Goalkeepers: For the second straight season, seniors Adam Khan and Sam Lanier will battle for playing time.
“Adam has great command when he is on the field and Sam has great athleticism that allows him to get off his line quickly and attack balls in the air.
Nik Smith and Alexios Avouris are the backups.
Head Coach: Matthew Wunderle, 13th year, 88-98-25 career record.
Coaching Staff: Johnny Morgan, Brady Starkey, Eric Johannisson, Mark Presley.
2022 Record: 11-6-1.
Returning Lettermen (6): Julian Rios, sr.; Michael Myers, sr.; Chauncy Walton, jr.; Derick Skilton, jr.; Macen Beichler, jr.; Preston Hatcher, soph.
Lettermen Lost (7): Nick Iurato, Mason Ward, Ben Hatcher, Ben Rainone, Dylan Phelps, Diego Jasso, Aiden Hills.
General Outlook: Ravenna graduated the school’s all-time leading goal-scorer (Mason Ward) and all-time assists leader (Nick Iurato), and other several top-level players.
This season will be a little bit of a rebuild for the Ravens.
“The good news is that we have several promising newcomers that are hoping to make an impact right away,” Wunderle said. “Our hardworking team hopes to be competitive in every game we play this season, and we hope to continue to challenge for a conference title. After losing so many players from last year’s team, we’re going to have to be creative and redesign our attack.”
Forwards: Julian Rios carries the scoring burden, and “he is more than capable of scoring in droves,” according to Wunderle.
Rios was named Second Team All-Metro Athletic Conference last year.
“I look for him to take a huge step forward this season and become one of the best goal-scorers in school history.”
Midfield: Michael Myers, who was Second Team All-MAC in 2022, leads the group and is described by Wunderle as the “engine of our team.”
“His tireless work rate, incredible technique and unselfish play, as well as his status as a good teammate, make him a tremendous player.”
Preston Hatcher is expected to take on a larger role in the midfield this season.
“His passing and fitness have grown, and he is going to be ready for the challenge.”
Defense: Cameron smith is a strong and fast defender.
“He is the type of defender you can count on when the system breaks down and the plan fails.”
Chauncy Walton was Second Team All-MAC last year, and “he has only gotten better.”
“Chauncy is consistent, fearless, technical and strong.”
Goalkeepers: This has been a position of strength for the Ravens for many years.
This year, Lincoln Hedge steps into the starting role.
“He has an excellent work ethic and a great attitude.”
Head Coach: Curtis Ahrens, 10th year, 58-83-11 career record.
Coaching Staff: Justin Hovis.
2022 Record: 2-14-1.
Returning Lettermen (10): Blake Dillner, sr.; Gavin Bertka, sr.; Trevor Gump, sr.; Owen Bowers, jr.; Carter Oyster, jr.; Kendrick Campbell, jr.; Kian Romeo, jr.; Matthew Fields, jr.; Daniel Allen, soph.; Andrew Clifford, soph.
Lettermen Lost (3): Avery Giuffre, Deian Longgood, Dominic Kemble.
General Outlook: “We are bringing back a ton of experience and are led by three extremely talented seniors,” Ahrens said of Dillner, Bertka and Gump.
Southeast also welcomes a long list of newcomers, including eight freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
“We have depth in the midfield and defense, while also adding some youth to our forwards, which we have been without the past two years. We have high expectations for ourselves in our league and tournament play this season.”
Forwards: A pair of freshmen, Cole Bruno and Dylan Dorsey, will play major minutes up top for the Pirates.
“Cole brings very good footskills and soccer IQ to the table and Dylan brings a lot of speed and athleticism. They will be sharing the responsibility as our point player, as we envision running a 4-5-1 formation.”
Midfield: The anchors are Dillner and Bertka, while Daniel Allen and Owen Bowers will also be key contributors.
“Blake and Gavin are a dangerous duo when linking together. Daniel brings speed and Owen has great vision and build-up play.”
Defense: Trevor Gump leads the group, and he will receive tremendous help this year, with depth from Matt Fields, Carter Oyster, Tristan Finch and Korbin Klatka.
“Trevor has a natural instinct of reading the game and being able to cut down angles of players. With help from teammates this year, he will not be asked to do as much recovery and will be able to start plays out of the back, as we seek to keep more possession this season and let the ball do more of the work for us.”
Goalkeepers: Southeast has two talented goalies in Kendrick Campbell and Andrew Clifford.
“Kendrick has more experience and confidence and Andrew brings a natural ability and willingness to get better.
“Both will probably see time throughout the season in order to keep them healthy.”
Head Coach: Paul Krzeminski, 15th year.
Coaching Staff: Jason Gasbarre.
2022 Record: 8-10-1.
Returning Lettermen (12): Billy Koroly, sr.; Jack Pincoe, sr.; Tyler Kamlowsky, sr.; Easton Christine, sr.; Gage Morris, sr.; Vince Incorvati, jr.; Payton Krzeminski, jr.; Liam McDonough, jr.; Justin Brugman, jr.; Preston Laryea, jr.; Ethan Laryea, soph.; Gabe Nascimento, soph.
Lettermen Lost (8): Dom Incorvati, Taeven Genovese, Aidan Mrakovich, Joe Maragos, Kevin Murphey Jr., Max McLaury, Tristan Sadowski, Josh Schneider.
General Outlook: “We lost a lot of experience on both sides of the ball,” Krzeminski said. “We do bring back a group that has a lot of great qualities to make up a successful campaign. More than half of the boys on the roster are year-round players, playing against the best competition available to them. I do see good things for this group going into the coming season.”
Forwards: There will be plenty of talent up top for the Rockets.
Payton Krzemiński was named Second Team All-MAC last year and has a lot of experience.
“He is technically sound, with a great skill-set.”
Two freshmen will also get significant time.
Logan Sadowksi and Eli Christine are club players and teammates that have played together for the last few years and bring a lot of chemistry between them to the team.
“They are both only freshmen, but they won’t play like it.”
Midfield: Jack Pincoe and Nick Castrilla will play the wingback positions.
“They bring loads of pace and skill to set the tone on the flanks.”
Billy Koroly, Ethan Laryea and Gage Morris will run the middle of the field.
“Each is unique in their own right. Billy is the cog pin to the game, with him and Ethan distributing and controlling the flow of the game. Gage will be the muscle to even out the group.”
Defense: Vince Incorvati is the “heart of a very experienced group,” according to Krzeminski.
“Vince is a heady player that is strong physically and mentally.”
Easton Christine and Tyler Kamlowsky will be on the outside, with Preston Laryea and Liam McDonough adding depth.
Goalkeepers: Justin Brugman had a couple of starts last year, but steps into a full-time role this season.
(Editor’s Note: Team information for Rootstown and Waterloo was not submitted in time for this story and will publish at a later time)