DuBOIS — A strong core of returning players means the DuBois Central Catholic soccer team is raising expectations after failing to make the playoffs a year ago.
The Cardinals have a roster filled with returning players after last year’s team featured no seniors. Returning starters include seniors Zach Edwards, Sean Evans, Tyler McIntosh, Egan Peck, and Jon Schoeneman. Several juniors also return after starting for the past two seasons. Colin Barnett, Tristan Engle, and Jonathan Kurtz all hope to build on last year’s effort.
“This time we have higher hopes,” DCC head coach Frank Szczerba said. “We hope to at least make the playoffs, and I really think that’s a minimum goal. We can put experience at almost every season to start the year, and I think we’ll improve as the season goes on.”
Just a few days before the start of the season Szczerba and his team were dealt a card they did not expect.
Central Catholic ended up short a few girls to field a team this year, so the girls who wanted to play were given the option to join the boys team. Andd, a handful have done just that.
Rachel Aravich, Alex Ochs and Chelsea Busatto played varsity last year for the DCC girls team, while sophomore Maria Werner and freshman Megan Ochs join the squad as first-year players.
“We found out late in the preseason that we will have some girls on the team, but it won’t be an issue. We now have 24 players on the roster, and that will only help us,” Szczerba said. “Rachel Aravich brings the most experience, and she clearly knows what to do with the ball.
“But from what I have seen, I think all of these girls can help us.”
Tyler McIntosh returns as the goalkeeper. He has proven to be a solid keeper entering his senior season and also has the versatility to play the field when needed.
Zach Edwards joined McIntosh as honorable mentions in the league All-Star voting last year, but DCC is looking to all of their seniors to lead a turnaround season.
“We need all of these seniors to be leaders, and we’re really expecting a lot out of them. Egan, Jon, Tyler, Zach and Sean all bring experience to their positions,” Szczerba added.
The Cardinals seem set on who will start, but as of Thursday were not willing to say who would fill each position. One key for the Cards will be to avoid injuries, which played a big role in DCC’s season last year.
“Getting Jonathan Kurtz back is vital. He missed the second half of last season. With him back we have starting experience at nine of eleven starting positions,” Szczerba added.
Several first-year players are looking to compete this year. Junior Johnathan Ritsick will participate in both cross country and soccer this year.
“Ritsick is a real find for us. He hasn’t played for a couple of years, but he has a lot of potential as a soccer player,” Szczerba said.
Freshman Jalen Kosko also made a strong first impression on his coaches.
“Jalen has surprised us as a freshman,” said Szczerba. “He has a lot of learning to do, but he will improve as the season goes along. We have a couple of development projects that will help us now and in the future.”
Szczerba will have assistant coaches Erik Peterson and Jay Barnett helping again.
Central Catholic starts the regular season today when it hosts Elk County Catholic at 4 p.m.
Seniors: Zach Edwards, Sean Evans, Ben Jasper, Tyler McIntosh, Egan Peck, Kenny Starr, Jon Schoeneman.
Juniors: Rachel Aravich, Colin Barnett, Tristan Engle, Jonathan Kurtz, Alex Ochs, Johnathan Ritsick.
Sophomores: Chelsea Busatto, Isaac Gray, Cade Peck, Harrison Starr, Maria Werner.
Freshmen: Ian Boland, Caleb Bruno, Hayes Cooper, Owen Helm, Jalen Kosko, Megan Ochs.