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Strong freshman class key for Woodridge boys soccer team

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

PENINSULA — According to Woodridge High School boys soccer head coach Nate Rausch, this year’s team has a solid blend of talented upperclassmen and underclassmen, but the squad’s key strength is its strong freshman class.

“We returned 10 players, but we also gained 10 new freshmen who are talented and will help build this team up in years to come,” he stated. “[Six of the freshmen] are starters for the varsity team. They are very talented and can turn into something great.”

The upperclassmen on this year’s team (with comments by Rausch) include:

  • Senior John Belluardo (captain): “He is our center mid and work horse. He will give you 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time. He has good vision, good foot skills, and is quick and physical for his size.”
  • Senior Eric Bissonette (captain): “He is a work horse like John, but Eric is one of our centerbacks who helps shut down opponents’ forwards. Good in the air and a good vocal leader.”
  • Senior Colin Batu: “He is our reserve forward. He came out for the first time this year. He works hard and is very coachable and eager to learn more about the game.”
  • Junior Ian Mullins (captain): “He is our holding midfielder. He has good vision and is good with either foot. He sits under the play and helps direct traffic in the midfield by keeping the flow of the game moving.”
  • Junior Matt Tannous: “He broke his arm in the beginning of the year, but he came back and played with a cast. He is our leading scorer. He is very quick with or without the ball. Has a good shot and is very good in the air.”
  • Junior Chase Edwards: “He is our right outside midfielder. He is very quick on and off the ball. He is able to take people one on one and beat them down line, or he can slow the game down for us when we need it.”
  • Junior Marc Haas: “A first-year player, he has good skill and is a good defender. He is one of our outside backs. He has the speed and endurance to make runs out of the back and be dangerous.”

Starting in goal for Woodridge this season is freshman Brett Lemke.

“He isn’t the tallest, but he is a very good shot-stopper,” Rausch said. “Even though he lacks in height, he is able to make the big game save. Look for him to be a great goalkeeper his junior and senior years.”

Another player with incredible potential, the coach noted, is versatile freshman Caleb Whitaker.

“We use him as our left mid, second forward or attacking center mid,” Rausch said. “He is good on the ball technically, has good vision, is very good with his left foot and is good in the air. He can be an all-Ohio player his senior year as well.”

In addition, Rausch said, three other freshmen have made an impact on this year’s team.

“Freshman Sam Reaman is our center back. He is quick, physical and smart in the back. He isn’t the biggest, but isn’t afraid to go into tackles. He is smart with the ball at his foot and can use either foot to play,” the coach said. “Freshman Carter Hartong is a very intelligent player about the game. He reads the game well and keeps the play simple and moving. And freshman Alex Powell is our right back. He isn’t the fastest, but he knows how to put himself in the right spot defensively. He is smart on and off the ball and very good at containing attackers and slowing the game down defensively.”

With so many young players, Rausch said, the team is still working on finishing off scoring chances.

“We out-shoot teams during games, but can’t seem to find the net, which has come back to haunt us in a couple games this year,” he said.

Through Woodridge’s first dozen games, the team had a 6-6 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the Portage Trail Conference (PTC).

“We are hoping to have a winning season and hopefully our first playoff win,” said Rausch, who has been the team’s coach for two seasons. “If things happen in our league that we need to, with teams getting a loss or two, we could be up to be co-champs in the PTC.”

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