Win over Knights propels Clay Eagles to third place

J. Patrick Eaken

For the first time in program history, Clay boys soccer defeated Three Rivers Athletic Conference foe St. Francis, 2-0.

Clay senior forward Keeghan Calkins and junior forward Zach Wells scored for the Eagles, who are 9-3 overall and 2-2 in the TRAC, good enough for third place. Senior goalkeeper Trevor Jurski and his defense have recorded four shutouts this season.

“Our defense played tremendously well,” Clay coach Zachary Soncrant said. “Our rotations on defense from our mids to our center backs, and just all-around, our effort that we put into that game was by far the best we’ve had most of the year. I think it showed tremendously in that game. 

“Our goalkeeper played outstanding, our talk from our goalkeeper to our defense was outstanding, and really, they didn’t have too many good quality looks in that game. I was very pleased with that,” Soncrant continued.

Clay also defeated Central Catholic, 7-1, but has league losses to a state-ranked St. John’s team and Findlay, both by 2-1 scores. A game at Fremont Ross (Oct. 15) has been rescheduled, and the Eagles still have contests remaining hosting Lima Senior (Oct. 8) and Whitmer (Oct. 13).

“We’re going to have three league games right at the end of the season. We’ve played a lot of what every team calls it — the big three in the TRAC — St. Francis, Findlay and St. John’s, so we’ve got the other side of that to go yet,” Soncrant said. 

“Definitely, one thing I think this year compared to some of the other years in the past — we’re not looking past any of those games. We know that our job is to come into every single one of these games and get our results done and then we move on. 

“Clay teams in the past have kind of overlooked these games and they come to bite us come tournament seeding time. That’s one thing we’ve done and changed more than any other year, is we aren’t looking past those. We are looking forward to those games and get the job done.”

Calkins leads the team in scoring with 27 points on 12 goals and three assists, which puts him in the top three in the league. Wells has six goals and two assists.

“Keeghan is having a great year. He is one that I have personally had for four years. He wasn’t even a varsity starter but transitioned to a varsity starter as a freshman. I had him as JV coach for one-half season and the last three years I’ve been head varsity coach, so I’ve had him on my squad, and he’s just a work horse,” Soncrant said. “He does everything well. I never have to question his effort that he gives. 

“I think we have one of the best two forwards (duos) in the league and I haven’t been able to say that the last two years, but it’s Keeghan and Zach Wells is our other one. Those two are playing tremendously well on top and realistically they are getting our good goals against some of these best teams. 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.”

The other forward is sophomore Brayden Duwve (two goals, one assist), and midfielders include senior Zach Woollard, juniors Angelo Cuttaia, Ben Jones, and Jared Jehany and freshman Adam Hansen (one goal, one assist). 

“I’ve got a good quality midfield. Our left wing, Angelo Cuttaia, is doing very well and having a good junior season this year, too,” Soncrant said. “He’s got five goals, three assists, and has put in some really good quality shots. He’s got some speed on the wing. He is a very quick kid.

“Jared Jehany and Ben Jones lock down our center for us. They play both of our center-mids, and both are having roughly around the same year — both have two goals. Jared has four assists and Ben has three assists. 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.”

The defensive starting unit is led by all seniors, including Ethan Spears, Woollard, Aaron Young (one assist), and Jesse Urbina.

“Our sweeper Ethan Spears holds our glue together for us. He cleans up every little mistake that we might have. His stats, unfortunately, are not going to show for this year, but he has one assist,” Soncrant said.

“He actually has about four non-keeper saves. He’s saved us. When our goalkeeper has come out in the past, maybe he forces that guy to go wide to take a shot, then Ethan has been the guy who will stand back in the box and he’s given us four clearances from that back line that have led to shots. It’s so good to see with that.

“We have two very fast (defensive) wingers that are able to play a little press offense when they get going — Jesse Urbina and Scott Woollard. They are very quick. It’s very hard to get past both of them, and both of them can play an attack style, too, so it’s kind of what we drill,” Soncrant continued.

“I know a lot of good Catholic schools, like St. Francis, St. John’s, they run that style. We believe we are trying to transition and build to that point where we can have my defenders do that exact same thing, and Jesse has a goal this year, and Scotty doesn’t quite have those, but his opportunities that he’s been building for have given us assists off of some very good speed.”

Rounding out the defense are junior Cody Keller, sophomores Alex Rife and Carson Langford and freshman Camden Williams.





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