BROOKVILLE — His banged-up and young roster finishing last fall’s schedule with a 4-4 October mark, second-year head coach Dave Reitz hopes that and a strong offseason helps continue that late momentum.
He has a 22-man roster back and aside from losing four seniors and five regulars from their playing rotation, Reitz believes a year older and healthier will make a huge difference.
The Raiders fought through plenty of injuries on their way to a 6-12 season. But the stronger finish gives him optimism.
“We had a strong offseason and even last fall before winter,” Reitz said. “In the last stretch we won four of eight with the guys getting confidence, and in the spring, we were positive with our goal differential and the guys are talking more, and comfortable with themselves.
“There’s a palpable team cohesion now. We are a team and in our volunteer morning workouts 17 of 22 were showing up. They were their to pick each other up.”
Junior goalkeeper Darius Sorbin is the Raiders’ returning all-conference player. He and the rest of the underclassmen benefited from playing opportunities.
“I’m very confident with our back four and Darius,” Reitz said. “It’s one thing being a good goalkeeper and it’s another that he made 200 saves last year. That’s a bad number, but good to know he can do it. He’s battle-tested and he’s improved. The group in front of him is a solid group. That gives Darius confidence and the team knows they can clean things up and they can start the counter attack.”
Sorbin’s defensive crew lost Kyle Gotwald to graduation, so Reitz looks to seniors Nate Burkett and Trenton Kramer, and sophomore Vince Doan to anchor things down. Senior Adam Martz and sophomore Ryan Wonderling will also see time in the back as will junior Jake McKinley and freshman John McHenry off the bench.
The Raiders have a mix of youth and experience through the middle. Sophomores Zakk Wolfe and Justin Vander kelen are at center and defensive midfield with senior Jacob Cable in a center attack midfield spot. Sophomore Payton Shaw will back them up in the midfield.
Filling the wing spots are senior Brian Pangallo and John Wonderling, sophomores Hayden Kramer and Tim Steele along with freshman Garner McMaster and sophomore newcomer J.P. Young.
Junior Bryce Kunselman, Reitz’s “utility man” will probably be mostly at a striker or forward spot along with sophomore Jace Miner. Freshman Logan Oakes could be a factor up front as well, helping spark the offensive attack.
“Our big key is this year is transition and counter attack. That’s what we’re looking to step into,” Reitz said. “We’ve defined ourselves defensively and got that squared away, now we’re looking for transition and countering.”
The Raiders were outscored 63-34 last year after a very slow start. That’s a big number to flip, and then some, says Reitz.
“We want balanced scoring, but we’re looking to defend well, win the ball and play in transition through the thirds,” he said. “No one likes to play def soccer, it’s not fun for kids or to watch and it’s hard. We need a balance and we’re seeking that. If I can keep Darius bored, he might not like it, but that means it’s good for our team.”
Reitz’s staff includes Kevin Wolfe, Corey Oakes and Justin Miller.
The Raiders open the season next Tuesday at home against Clarion-Limestone.
Seniors: Nathan Burkett, Brian Pangallo, Jacob Cable, Trenton Kramer, Adam Martz, John Wonderling.
Juniors: Bryce Kunselman, Jake McKinley, Darius Sorbin.
Sophomores: Vince Doan, Hayden Kramer, Tim Miller, Jace Miner, Peyton Shaw, Tim Steele, Justin Vander kelen, Zakk Wolfe, Ryan Wonderling, J.P. Young.
Freshmen: John McHenry, Garner McMaster, Logan Oakes.
6-at Brockway, 5 p.m.
8-Karns City, 10 a.m.
15-at Clearfield, 10 a.m.
18-at Forest Area, Marienville
19-at DuBois CC, 5 p.m.
24-at Elk Co. Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
26-Brockway, 7 p.m.
29-at St. Marys, 10 a.m.
2-at DuBois, 5 p.m.
8-Redbank Valley, 7 p.m.
15-Elk Co. Catholic
17-DuBois CC, 7 p.m.
Games begin at 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted.