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2014 Catholic and Private school boys' soccer preview

It can be a challenge when you’re a young, new coach to a high school program, but the Richard boys’ soccer team didn’t have that problem with Justin Hunter last season.

The Pioneers finished second in their section and fourth overall in the Catholic League; the school’s best finish in the last 10 seasons.

Despite losing some big seniors, some big players return to the pitch for the squad this season.

Center mid Nick Gee, center back Justin Elesseser and defensive center mid Giuseppe Loduca will all lead the team in a captain role during their senior seasons.

Also returning are sophomore outside mid Nick Hammond, senior center back Brenden Poslaiko and senior Christian Jakovak.

New to the team is freshman center mid Nathan Giraro.

“He’s crazy good and I’m excited for him,” Hunter said. “In the preseason, he leads the team in goals.

“The ceiling on this kid’s ability is as high as he is willing to push it. There’s aren’t many players like him walking around Downriver, let along the state.”

Also on the field and expected to contribute will be

junior forward Nate Parks and Jakovak’s brother Liam, a freshman.

Drake Wigginton joins the Pioneers after a few years off and juniors Billy Shaheen and Zach Gilreath are both transfers students.

Heading into 2014, Hunter is excited about his team’s ability to play good soccer.

“Last year it got pretty ugly at points, just kicking the ball as far as you could and being more athletic than teams,” he said. “(This year) our ability to keep the ball on the ground and play good, quality soccer is going to be an advantage for us.

“Once we get up in a game, no one’s been able to come back on us yet, and I don’t see many people being able to come back on us.”

After last weekend’s scrimmage, Hunter is optimistic about the Pioneers’ future.

“The only thing that’s gonna be tough for us, is my starting 11 are very young,” he said. “Of those of them who are older, there’s not so much experience between them.

“Other than that, I don’t see many other tests. I’d like to think that if we’re not finishing first in the league, we’re finishing second.”

The Pioneers are set to open their season Tuesday and on Thursday will host CHSL rival, Allen Park Cabrini.



Cabrini

With 16 seniors and 18 returning players from last season, experience will carry the Cabrini boys’ soccer team through the 2014 campaign.

“We have a pretty experienced team, but it will be up to them how they gel and how far they want to go,” Cabrini Coach Frank Mlodzik said. “We underachieved a little last season by not making the Catholic League playoffs and losing in the district championship game, but this year we are expecting better things.”

Returning between the posts are sophomore Peyton Harding and Junior Austin Martin and they will be joined by newcomer senior Scott Smith.

“It will be good competition between them in practice, which will hopefully carry over to games,” Mlodzik said. “Peyton and Austin have some experience and got valuable playing time last season.”

On defense, seniors Joe Astorino, Curtis Krawczyk, Raymond Smith, Nathan Homiak and Luke Knapik will lead the way. Joining them are juniors Colin Branigan and Ben Misovich.

“Those seniors have played together as a unit and as they understand each other more, it should help us,” Mlodzik said.

In the midfield, key returnees are seniors Teve Banghart, Jeff Andrews, Adam Hall, Ryan Perkins, Chester Merta and Alex Formella.

“Jeff and Adam are returning from season-ending injuries last year and the others have played together for awhile,” Mlodzik said. “We look for them to be the workhorses for our team.

“We will rely heavily on them to provide leadership out on the field.”

Up front the Monarchs will be led by leading goal scorer senior Nico Gonzalez, as well as senior Asad Marji, junior Declan McCafee and sophomore Jimmy Nicola.

Overall, the Monarchs hope to stay away from the injury bug and have a successful season.

“The boys are excited and ready to go,” Mlodzik said. “It will be a tough and long Catholic League season, but hopefully we will do well.”



Inter-City

The Chargers may look a little different this season after losing quite a few star players to graduation this past June.

Among those who graduated was Evan Kraatz, an MHSAA Dream Team selection and three-year All-State.

Also gone is two-year All-State Blake Kirkland, three-year starters Nate Estell and Travis Myles and Noah Seacrist and Zach Riddle.

Despite losing so many to graduation, Coach Mark Kraatz does have some familiar faces returning to the pitch in 2014.

The senior class leading the way will be Todd and Troy Kazalauskas, Sebastion Zuhursky, Jon Goering and Blake Werner.

Juniors include Garrett Kraatz, Caleb Sandoval, Brady Fressel and Josh Estell and sophomores include Nathanael Pardo and Malachi Zuhorski.

Newcomers to the Chargers this season are Connor Claypool and Collin Tally.

Zuhorski and Todd Kazlaskas are much improved from last year and will be key for the Chargers this season.

Kraatz, Sandoval and Fressel will take care of things in the middle and Zuhorski and Pardo will be up front scoring.

The expectations for Kraatz and his team are simple and the same as always.

“Compete for the league title and compete to become state champs,” Kraatz said. “This year is no different.

“Although we lost a lot, we have a very strong nucleus coming back and I expect us to be right there at the end of the season.”







Last Updated: 8/22/2014 5:08:58 PM EST

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