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Staunton River Boys soccer preview

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A new start for Eagles

By Mike Forster

 

The good news for Staunton River's boys soccer team is that it has ample opportunity to improve.

The bad news is that it will have to do so in the rugged Blue Ridge District/Conference 31.

The Eagles won only two contests last season, with none of those victories taking place in district play.

This year, the team takes to the pitch with a new head coach and a positive attitude, as well as a desire to engage in a high level of physical play.

But, how will that translate in terms of play?

River's new coach is Michael Gaviorno, a transplant from Annapolis, Md, who teaches Spanish at the high school.  So far, he likes what he's seen.  "We're a young team," he notes, with but five seniors on his 18-player roster.  "But we have a lot of skilled players who are working hard.  They're intense and able to compete on a high level."

One of the intense guys Gaviorno points to is co-captain Hunter Johnson.  The senior is ready to direct the defense from the middle of the back line.  Not afraid to use his big body, Johnson is a hard-working leader who will be heard from on the field.

The other co-captain is Matt Miller.  The junior has great vision and can be very physical from his holding midfield slot.  He's one of the more vocal players and backs up his words with excellent tackling skills.

Another of the five seniors is Brandon Lilly.  An outside midfielder, Lilly may be the most fit player on the team.  A cross country runner in the fall, he'll be able to outlast just about anyone he'll face.

Another senior who came to the team in great physical shape is Garrett Folks.  He brings a strong physical presence, as well as a passion for the game to the flanks of the midfield.

Juan Gamez, another senior, is a hard worker who can use his good size to advantage as a defensive midfielder.

The final senior is Adam DaPonte.  The punter and kicker for the Staunton River football team, DaPonte will be one of the team's strikers.  Tough as nails (as shown by his defensive backfield play on the gridiron), DaPonte has a good nose for the net and a strong leg to boot.

Gaviorno has a strong group of underclassmen, including a trio of sophomores to note in the early going:  Eric Torres, Hector Carreon and Kelan Guilliams.

Torres and Gulliams are both midfielders, though Torres has more of a defensive bent.  Nevertheless, the coach is encouraging him to get more involved in the attack.

Guilliams, though not very large, can be physical.  More importantly, he's a good-looking playmaker.

Carreon will man the center of the defense with Johnson.  He's the kind of player who subscribes to the motto, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."  He's also excellent at reading defenses and anticipating what foes are planning.

Goalkeeper Heath Farren brings a large frame (6' 0") to between the pipes.  He's got quick feet and is still learning some of the nuances of being a premier keeper.  According to Gavarino, Farren is improving each and every day.

William Siggins will also line up at center mid.  A junior, Siggins is as quick with his feet as he is with his wit and has shown great ball handling skills, including the ability to quickly change the flow of things.

Gaviorno likes what he's seen so far.  "They're very coachable and very attentive at practice," he said.  "They also bring a high level of intensity."

He also defined success for this team.  "I want my guys to play at the highest level they can and to have no regrets."

"I want them to take pride in the way they're playing."

While the coach feels that the team can compete with the best in the Blue Ridge, that seems like a stretch objective.

Still, you have to aim high.  And aiming to run with the likes of a Lord Botetourt is aiming extremely high.

As it is said, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."