Eastwood scoring to be led by McDonald, Kramer

J. Patrick Eaken

Last year, the Eastwood boys soccer team finished 9-8-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
        In the Division III tournament, the Eagles defeated Mansfield Christian, 3-2, in a shootout, and then took down another state powerhouse, Mansfield St. Peter’s, 4-1, before losing to NBC champion Woodmore 5-1 in a district tournament match-up in Tiffin.
        Eastwood seventh-year coach Joe Montag, who has a 57-40-9 accumulative record and have won two league championships, thinks they can do even better this year.
        “We started the season slow and finished strong. We are definitely looking to have a significantly higher goal output this season as we have several striking threats. We look for (junior) Zack McDonald and (senior) Montgomery Kramer to eclipse last year’s goal scoring totals and to be complemented well by additional scoring threats from (sophomore) Kyle Newmeister and (freshman) Keagan Herr.
        “Without a doubt we look forward to Montgomery Kramer to use his four years of varsity experience and field creativity to produce opportunities for us. He has been a good leader this season for our younger guys and that has had a positive impact on and off the field. He inspires a good a work ethic that I know will deliver the results we are looking for this season on the pitch.”
        Last year, Kramer led the team in scoring with nine goals and five assists and McDonald had 10 goals and two assists. They are among 13 returning lettermen.
        The Eagles opened the season tying NBC foe Genoa, 6-6, and non-league opponent Bowling Green, 2-2. Montag believes if his team wants to start winning, they have to close the deal in the box and around the net.
        “Our weakness in the past few years has been in our inability to finish around the goal,” Montag said. “We have definitely worked to improve this, I believe we have made great strides already and will continuously improve throughout the season.”
        Montag believes every player on his team is key to the team’s success, and does not want to ID too many players who have not proven themselves already.
        “In my opinion they are all key players. Everyone has a role to play in regards to what we need to do to be successful,” Montag said. “We do not have one or a few players dominate the field, all our players have key assignments to do and we will need for everyone to handle their assignments according and collectively to be successful.
        “Our midfield and defense is not set in stone yet as we have several players competing for these starting spots. However we are extremely happy with our depth in both of these lines at this time and look forward to returning lettermen Nate McCauley-Benner, Logan Wendt and Zack Sechkar leading defensively along with Conner Oberhouse and Alex Herr contributing with their leadership, play and dedicated work ethic,” Montag continues.
        “I expect Logan Wendt will be a top defensive player in our league this year as he really embraced this role last year and continues to get better and better as he matures as a player.”
        There are players who he sees developing as they continue their high school careers.
        “We had a nice group of young players come into our fold last season that are continuing to blossom into the players I knew they could be,” Montag said. “We look forward to sophomores Calvin Price, Hunter Berlin, Devon Good and Xander Ramsey continuing to grow into key players. Each of these players is able to produce results immediately when they are the field making them very valuable to our squad and our season goals.
        “Freshman Keagan Herr has come to us with a nice work ethic and prowess for soccer. I look for Keagan to be a contributor right out of the gate this season and look forward to seeing him grow his role with the team in the future.”
        Where will Eastwood end up in the NBC? Montag believes it’s wide open and doesn’t want to make any predictions, but believes his team has a chance to compete for a title.
        “I am not much of a prognosticator, I prefer coaching, however I believe we have the personnel and the mind set necessary to compete for the NBC title for sure. That is always our mission and what we go to work every day for.
        “I don't spend a lot of time evaluating the competition as they are not something I can manage or control. We look at each team individually one at a time. Right now we are concentrating on being ready for our first game. We will prepare for each game the best we can and if we are discipline day by day, game by game then the results will follow. We simply try to control the things we can each day in training and prepare for the unexpected the best we can. I feel our league is pretty much level right now leaving the season results open to the squad that wants to prepare for it and then earn it.”


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