Clay to build on second best year in school history

J. Patrick Eaken

Last year, Clay boys soccer coach Zachary Soncrant was chosen the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 12-5 season. 

It was the second best mark in school history. 

That included wins over Perrysburg twice, Mansfield Madison and St. Francis, which kept them competitive in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference (4-2), losing only to Findlay and St. John’s, both by 2-1 scores.

Two first team selections were forwards Keeghan Calkins (17 goals, eight assists) and Zach Wells (13 goals, four assists). Soncrant felt they were the best two forwards in the TRAC, but Calkins has graduated. Fortunately for the Eagles, Wells returns for his senior year..

“Zach is another one I don’t have to question his work ethic when he goes out on the field. He goes after every single ball and he’s a shark in the box,” Soncrant told The Press

In his first three years at Clay, Soncrant is 30-19-3, which is not bad considering the competition his team faces in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, but there are no league championships yet. The Eagles have won sectional championships in two of Soncrant’s three seasons.

Soncrant has set the mark high for this year.

“I expect our team to be competing for a TRAC championship. With our impressive run last year we look to build off of that this year. We are returning the core of our attackers and have looked impressive early on with our runs off the ball,” Soncrant said.

“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. I still expect great teams out of Findlay, St. Johns and St. Francis.”

Besides Wells, senior returnees include center back Ben Jones, midfielder Angelo Cuttaia and center midfielder Jarod Jehany. Sophomore center midfielder Adam Hansen is another key returnee. 

Cuttaia and Wells were both All-TRAC selections last year with Cuttaia scoring eight goals with seven assists, and Soncrant believes those two will be his playmakers.

“Both guys are experienced and have great vision. They feed off of each other,” Soncrant said. “Angelo has attended many ID camps this offseason to better his knowledge of the game and has also grown exceptionally well as a player leading into his senior year. Zach has great size and body control with the speed to go with it. There are not many that can knock him off the ball.

“Our strengths I would have to say would be our strikers and our midfielders. Most of our experience comes from those positions and we have guys that understand their role.”

Jehany and Hansen will head up the midfield. Jehany had three goals and five assists and Hansen had three goals and two assists as a freshman.

“Both have played at a high level and control the game very well. They control the pace of the game for us,” Soncrant said.

The defense will be led by Jones and Carson Langford. Jones still had two goals and five assists last year, despite playing mostly at midfield and on the back end of the field.

“Ben brings experience as well as being one of our smartest if not our smartest player on the team. Carson brings us speed and height to our backline,” Soncrant said.

“Jared Jehany and Ben Jones locked down our center for us (last year). They are very good at playing that center mid role, knowing when to make runs and when to kind of hold back. It’s their timing and really their vision that helps us succeed from our midfield to our forwards. That is very key to us.”

However, the Eagles have not yet determined who will start at goalkeeper as preseason competition continues, plus there are other defensive roles to fill.

“Just having a young inexperienced defense and goalie would be our weakness. We have very capable guys to fill those roles but the experience will be the tough test for them to overcome,” Soncrant said.

Soncrant has others who he expects to join the mix.

“Brayden Duwve is our most improved player. His vision of the game and awareness on the field has been a night and day difference from last year to this year,” Soncrant said. “Brayden Duwve, Roswaldo Ruiz, and Christian Mays are players I expect to contribute big this year. There is a lot of talent between them and most have yet to be discovered. Between all three of them I’m expecting many goals and assists.”



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