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Highland boys soccer team looking to continue success

10/17/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — Highland High School boys soccer head coach Bob Sefcik said his team’s performance has surprised a lot of people this season.

“We have worked our way through some injuries and a bit of inexperience,” he said. “A lot of people have written us off this year — some at the beginning of the year and some along the way. Our passion to continue that progress and get better every day is driven by the doubters. Our biggest strength is the relationships the players have with each other off the field. They are very close and look out for each other on a day-to-day basis.”

Highland finished the regular season with an 8-7-1 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Suburban League, good for third place in the league.

Following a first-round bye, the playoffs will start for Highland in the sectional championship game at home Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. against either Green or Ellet high schools.

Sefcik said his team will look to advance in the postseason by continuing to play the way it has all season.

“We strive to maintain progress every single day,” he said. “By doing so, we feel we can go far in the tournament.”

According to Sefcik, this year’s team has a good mix of veterans and young talent.

“We graduated 16 players, including 12 letter-winners. We also lost two players to the academy system, which means we only brought back a couple of players with major varsity experience,” he said. “We are lucky to have a very deep program, so players were ready to step in right away.”

The seniors on this year’s team are Mark Burns, Konnor Fink, Austin Seaman, Corey Zelinski, Gavin Bock, Kyle Boyher, Josh Froats, Julian Hadley and CJ Mall.

“All of our seniors are great young men with very bright futures in front of them,” the coach said. “It has been a pleasure working with these boys for four years.”

Sefcik named Burns as a player who has been a surprise for Highland this season.

“Mark Burns came back to us this season after being away from soccer for a little while,” he said. “Mark provided us with the field leader presence we desperately needed. He leads by example and is an extremely dangerous player. He has developed a long way over the past few years, and we couldn’t be more proud of him.”

In addition, Sefcik said, several juniors have stood out this season.

“We have a handful of high-level juniors,” he stated. “Logan Davis, Bryce Alexander and Mike Ley all have made major contributions for multiple seasons on the varsity level. These players have been the anchor to our team all season providing us with leadership and the experience we had lacked due to graduation.”

In addition, Sefcik said, a number of underclassmen have been able to play key roles this season.

“Highland is a very exciting place to coach. Every year we are able to reload with new talent,” the coach said. “We have quite a few freshmen and sophomores who see major minutes for varsity this season. This bodes well for our program longterm, as these players gain experience at the varsity level and get used to the pace of play. Josh Woolard, Kurt Everett and Blake Hatch are three freshmen to keep an eye on.”

Sefcik is in his fifth season at Highland and his third year as the varsity head soccer coach. His assistants are Greg Shoults, Lewis Bromer and Ronnie Platten.

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