Clay boys soccer returns 10 after making title run

J. Patrick Eaken

Last year, Clay boys soccer was in the hunt for a Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship in coach Zach Soncrant’s first season at the helm.
        The Eagles were tied for first place with St. John’s until the final week of league play, when the Titans ran away with a 6-0 victory.
        Soncrant is confident his team is heading for a successful season this year after finishing 9-9 overall and 5-2 and tied for second place in the TRAC last year,  He has 10 letter winners returning.
        “I expect our team to be competing for a TRAC championship,” Soncrant said. “With our impressive run last year we look to build off of that this year. We are coming back with eight of our starting 11 from last year.
        “The competition in our league is tough. There are many great teams that seem to rebuild year in and year out no matter how many seniors they lose.”
        Soncrant says his team will have to build on its offense, and that means getting more goals. Last year, the team outscored opponents 42-34, averaging 2.3 goals per game.
        He says they’ll have to do better, even though they did score eight against Lima Senior, six against Vermilion and Start, and five against Whitmer. But they were shut out four times — by Springfield, Sylvania Southview, Sylvania Northview and St. John’s.
        “Scoring is a weakness for us right now,” Soncrant said. “We’ve got some young attacking wing players that are getting used to the speed of the game and our experience in those positions isn’t quite there yet.”
        Retuning is senior center back Austin Murphy, junior center back Ethan Spears, senior center midfielders Zach Rowe and Ruger Wamer, and junior forward Keeghan Calkins.
        Wamer, Calkins and Rowe were all-league performers last year. Calkins led the team with 12 goals and five assists, Wamer had nine goals and 10 assists, and Rowe had six goals and one assist.
        Soncrant expects Wamer and Calkins to lead the front line and scoring again.
        “Both guys are experienced and have great vision. They feed off of each other,” Soncrant said. “Ruger has exceptional vision and ball control.”
        At midfield, Wamer, who also kicked for the varsity football team last year, and Rowe will bring plenty of experience.
        “Both have played at a high level for over three years now. Both guys always ask questions to better themselves,” Soncrant said.
        On the defensive side, Murphy and Spears are expected to be the leaders.
        “They play physical, have great speed, and control our entire backline,” Soncrant said. “Austin is a leader on the backline and constantly talks to those around him.
        “Our strengths I would have to say would be our backline and our midfielders. Most of our experience comes from those positions and we have guys that understand their role.”
        Soncrant believes Wamer and Murphy, among others, may have what it takes to play at the next level after graduation.
        In goal will be Trevor Jurski, who led the team with 43 saves last year. As a team, the Eagles posted shutout wins over Bryan (2-0) and Perrysburg (1-0).
        “(Jurski) played at a very high level last year and has continued this offseason with keeper trainings up in Michigan,” Soncrant said.
        Rejoining the team this year is underclassman Angelo Cuttaia, who Soncrant believes will have an immediate impact. Two others adding to the team’s depth are Jesse Urbina and Zach Wells.
        “Angelo was a freshman last year who returns for his sophomore year and has impressive outings in Strongsville and scrimmages this summer,” Soncrant said.
        “Jesse is on our backline but has great speed. He understands the game and has a little bit of offensive capabilities as well. Zach Wells, who is now a sophomore, has yet to unlock his full potential. He has very good size for a sophomore and the skills to go with it.”
Soncrant had been on Clay’s soccer staff for four years before taking the varsity head coaching job – his last junior varsity squad went 11-2-1 before he took over, replacing Justin Guy. Many of those JV players are now on this year’s varsity.


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