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JF Boys soccer preview

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Cavs are loaded for bear

By Mike Forster

 

It's time to get working on another streak.

Last year, the Jefferson Forest boys soccer program saw its  streak of consecutive Seminole District regular-season championships stopped at 21.

The stopper came in the form of E.C. Glass.  Now the Cavs would like nothing better than to end the Hilltoppers' Seminole title streak at a mere one.

JF seems to have the ponies to make that happen.  Of course, having those horsies is not the same as having them run.  This crew, however, seems to be fired up, eager to show what it can do.

Probably nobody is more eager than the duo of Matthew Crider and Teddy Delladera.  Last year, the pair re-joined the Cavs midway through their junior years.  This year, they begin their senior campaigns with the crew from the get-go.

Crider, who as a freshman scored two of the greatest goals in JF soccer history (enabling their State championship), is moving to defense.  His size and toughness make that move too tempting for head coach Jedd Zaring.  The fact that Crider was recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy as a defenseman speaks volumes about his potential there.

Delladera now shapes up as possibly the most deadly striker in the Seminole District.  His madcap dashes into the goal mouth have goalkeepers spending sleepless nights.  "He's a game-changer, no doubt about it," said Zaring of the guy who scored eight goals in half a season of play.

Ben Cavanaugh will be found at center mid.  A co-captain, along with Crider, Cavanaugh is long and lean, as well as technically sound.  

"He's the kind of guy who always looks to make his teammates look good," said Zaring.

He'll be joined on the pitch by his brother, Thomas.  Last year, the 6'4" Thomas was tossed into the fire when he had to assume goalkeeper duties during a game with Glass.  That happened because starting keeper Chris Pallazi broke his ribs.  Cavanaugh comported himself well enough that it appears the junior will start the year between the pipes.

Pallazi, meanwhile, has shown his natural ability as a field player.  The senior showed it is better to give than to receive, as he nailed an equalizing goal against Sherando in early-season scrimmage action this spring.  He can play up top or on the flank.

Aaron Crance had a nice goal in the Hidden Valley scrimmage earlier.  Versatile, Crance is playing with a lot of energy, as though he has something to prove.  He can fit nicely into the Cav attack.

Alex Rodriguez has been a nice surprise so far.  Calm and deliberate, Rodriguez has shown discipline in the holding mid slot.

Another senior is Matthew Weakly, who is lining up strongly at right fullback.  He has a no-nonsense approach to complement his physical strength.  He's not one to shy from contact.

Logan Merkle is yet another senior.  A big, smart kid, Merkle keeps his approach simple and takes care of the ball from the center midfield.

One senior the team will miss on the field is Kyle Pitcher.  Enduring yet another knee operation, Pitcher's season is already over.  He'd have been a big help on the defensive side of things.

Fortunately, Martin Solheim arrived from Norway.  He'll plug in at right forward.  From that spot, his big leg is expected to deliver 40-yard pinpoint passes to pining players.

Some of the underclassmen who are expected to make big contributions include Pierce Saunders, who'll start in the center of the defense, next to Crider.

Brian McConkey, who'll plug into the midfield, reminds us of Delladera, style-wise.

Josh Owen should be a big boost in the backfield.  The big feller (6'2") is bouncing back from last year's ankle injury.

Ben May, who is just coming back from a concussion, is a flashy midfielder with a knack for finding the net.

Of course, the rest of the roster is hugely talent-laden.  We'll be sure to hear of the others as the season progresses.

With all that talent, Zaring still has concerns.  "Will it come together?" he asks.  "Will the pieces fit?  Will we have the depth to compete?"

Zaring should soon have his answers, as play starts this week.