BROCKWAY — Brockway has cemented itself as one of the perennial powers when it comes to boys soccer in District 9, and not even a change in coaching staff and loss of a talented senior class could derail the Rovers from that they do best — win championships.
Andy Daugherty took over the head coaching reins prior to last season following the retirement of Rich Esposito, who stepped aside after being a part of the program for three decades. Esposito served as head coach the final 10 of those years, compiling a 169-27-4 record and winning five D-9 titles during that run.
All Daugherty did in his first season was guide the Rovers to a 12-5-1 record and the school's three straight D-9 Class A title, which they captured with a 3-0 win against Coudersport in the finals.
Daugherty and the Rovers lost just two seniors — Nathan Bennett and Linkin Nichols — from a squad that eventually lost its PIAA opener to Springdale, 3-0. Daugherty welcomes 16 players who were a part of last year's squad.
"The main core is still here and back, so I think we’ll still be pretty solid," said Daugherty. "The one thing we've talked about is how last year we started off fast then went into kind of a (mid-season) lull.
"We told them that can't happen this year. We don’t know if or when the season may get pulled out from from us. There is no time to make mid-season adjustments like we did last year to get it back to make a good playoff run, because we still don't know if there will even be playoffs."
Daugherty large of returnees is lewd by a strong senior class comprised of Chase Azzato, Noah Bash, Eli Fremer, Dom Inzana, Ryan Lin, Lewis Painter. He will call on them to help lead the team once again.
"Senior-wise, Noah Bash is a returning All-Star for us, and we're going to lean on him a lot for leadership and his play on the field too. Lewis Painter is back in net, and we expect good things from him with another year under his belt back there.
"Ryan Lin is our spark plug in the middle and always seems be in right place at right time. The big key is getting Dom Inzana back healthy and ready to go after missing last season (injury). That's a big boost for us, and we would have loved to have him last season. Eli Fremer and Chase Azzato are also senior back."
The junior class also has some big key back that play in all levels of the field in Marcus Bennett, Jared Marchiori, Nolan Swanson, Eric Young, Garret Park and Joe Hertel.
The team also has an influx of new faces with five freshmen.
"A key for us is our versatility and players being interchangeable," said Daugherty. "We purposely switch players around because it helps if you have injuries or need to get someone a break. That should help us this season because of the different schedule.
"And, there have definitely been a lot of changes since the initial scheduled came out (most notably the bubble created by schools in Intermediate Unit 9). We lost two weeks but only have like four less games, so things are really going to be compressed. We're going to have two or three games every single week, so the more guys you have who know to play each position the better."
Daugherty will once again be assisted by Chuck Marchiori, Brad Martino, Tyler Duttry and Clayton Heckman.
Brockway is set to open its season this evening at home against DuBois Central Catholic.
Seniors: Chase Azzato, Noah Bash, Eli Fremer, Dom Inzana, Ryan Lin, Lewis Painter. Juniors: Dylan Antonuccio, Marcus Bennett, Dylen Coder, Joe Hertel, Jared Marchiori, Garret Park, Nolan Swanson, Eric Young. Sophomore: Alex Carlson, Johnathan Knox. Freshmen: Dylan Bash, Evan Botwright, Mayson Fremer, Isaac Guaglianone, Jacob Maze