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The Bay Rivers District is loaded with boys soccer talent this year, much of it coming from teams within the Historic Triangle.
With Jamestown coming off a state championship, Lafayette making the state tournament and York falling just short of a state tournament appearance last season, local teams have set themselves up for postseason runs this year with an expanded eight-team state tournament field.
Jamestown, York and Lafayette all return loaded rosters and will be battling one another in the regular season for the district title.
Antonio Gonzalez of Jamestown, Max Poelker of York and Reeves Trott of Lafayette are all among the best players in the region and will be looking to give their teams an edge on the field.
The next tier of local teams features Grafton, Tabb and Warhill. All three of those teams have solid rosters and will be able to challenge almost any team in the Bay Rivers District night in and night out.
Bruton, the smallest school in the region, has to replace some key players from last year’s Conference 33 championship team and could be in for a tough time come district play. However, the Panthers do look capable of putting together a postseason run against other Group 2A opponents.
Below are previews for every Historic Triangle team competing in the Bay Rivers District:
Head Coach: Luke Taylor
2016 Classification: 2A Conference 33
2015 Record: 11-9-0
Players to Watch: Michael Wilson (senior, F), Lanson Fontaine (senior, F), Sharif Donkor (senior, D), Chuckie Tenbusch (junior, M)
Season Outlook: Coming off a Conference 33 championship, Bruton will have to replace a number of key contributors from last year’s team. Bruton’s midfield took the biggest losses as Hunter Embry, Andrew Maeso and Matt Gerdes all graduates. Needing to replace forward Miguel Martinez does not help either. However, the Panthers do return some solid talent that should help them be competitive in the Group 2A playoffs. Wilson, a Christopher Newport University commit, and Fontaine, who scored 15 goals last season, will pace the Panthers on offense and provide a dynamic scoring threat. The key returning defender is Donkor, who was named a second-team All-Region selection last year. Tenbusch is coming off a solid sophomore campaign and will provide stability to the midfield. Taylor said Bruton’s “talented core” will put the Panthers in a position to make a deep run in the Group 2A playoffs. While Bruton may struggle at times against Bay Rivers District opponents, they will likely be a tough out in conference play.
Head Coach: Johnny Yu
2016 Classification: 4A Conference 19
2015 Record: 8-2-4
Players to Watch: Dylan Lorio-MacNamara (senior, M), Patrick Garber (senior, M), Adam King (senior, D), Matt Trepte (senior, M)
Season Outlook: In his second year as head coach, Yu will have to replace a number of talented seniors from last year’s team that lost to Smithfield in the Conference 19 semifinals. The Clippers will need to replace midfielders Juan Garcia and Colton Nichols, as well as last year’s starting goalkeeper Jay Fox. However, the Clippers do return some key players from last year’s team. Leading Grafton this year will be Lorio-MacNamara, who earned first-team All-Conference 19 honors. In charge of the midfield will be Garber and Trepte, both of whom have plenty of experience and can contribute on offense and defense. King will anchor what should be a solid but young defense. Yu said this year’s team will feature younger players in starting roles than last year, which means the Clippers could struggle at times against tougher opponents.
Head Coach: Bobby O’Brien
2016 Classification: 4A Conference 19
2015 Record: 20-1-0
Players to Watch: Kevin Tripp (junior, F), Ben Carper (senior, M), Antonio Gonzalez (sophomore, F), Duncan McDevitt (senior, M)
Season Outlook: After winning the Group 4A state championship last season, O’Brien and the Eagles will be looking to replicate some of that same magic this year. Doing so might be difficult, as the Eagles will need to replace defending Group 4A Player of the Year Jeff Wolons, who broke multiple scoring records during his final year at Jamestown. However, Jamestown returns plenty of talent in the midfield and attacking third. Two seniors — Carper and McDevitt — will all be heavily relied upon for their leadership and play. McDevitt, who is coming back from an injury, will provide an additional scoring threat once he reaches full health. Carper, a first-team All-State midfielder last season, will take on more of a defensive role this year for the Eagles. Tripp is a talented forward who can create his own shots during runs. Despite his sophomore status, Gonzalez is the most talented player on the Jamestown roster and will be a huge go-to threat for the Eagles. Barring an unforeseen injury or loss, Jamestown should once again be in the hunt for a state championship.
Head Coach: Brian Sorrell
2016 Classification: 4A Conference 18
2015 Record: 12-6-2
Players to Watch: David Domalski (senior, GK), Matthew Beatty (senior, M), Jason Eckenrode (senior, F), Reeves Trott (senior, M)
Season Outlook: This will be Lafayette’s first season playing in Group 4A after playing in Group 3A last season and making the state tournament. While the Rams will have to compete against the likes of Jamestown in the postseason, they are more than capable of hanging with any team in the Bay Rivers District. Leading the Rams will be Trott, a senior who garnered first-team All-State honors after scoring 22 goals and adding 14 assists in just 13 games last season. Trott, a William & Mary commit, is one of the most dynamic players in the district and will be a big source of Lafayette’s offense. Also returning is Eckenrode, a forward who also has a knack for finding the back of the net. If Eckenrode can match last year’s statistical output of 10 goals and 15 assists, the Rams will be strong up front. Beatty is a well-rounded midfielder who can contribute on offense and defense. Domalski is a solid goalkeeper with plenty of experience playing in big games. With players like Tobi Yanez and Thomas Pogue also in the starting lineup, Lafayette absolutely has the talent to challenge for the Bay Rivers District title.
Head Coach: Scott Kuhnle
2016 Classification: 3A Conference 27
2015 Record: 7-6-2
Players to Watch: Allen Blair (junior, F), Matt Montgomery (senior, D), Preston Klekar (sophomore, D), Derek Cook (senior, M)
Season Outlook: Tabb came painfully close to ending eventual Group 4A state championship Jamestown’s season in the Conference 19 semifinals. The Tigers took the Eagles to a shootout, which they eventually lost 3-2. The biggest returning player for the Tigers is Cook, who earned first-team All-State honors as a midfielder last year. Cook, a Christopher Newport University commit, scored 11 goals last season and helped bolster a strong defense, and he should be in a similar position this year. Montgomery, a senior, and Klekar, a sophomore, will team up to lead Tabb’s defense, which should once again be one of Tabb’s strongest groups. Blair, who scored 12 goals last season, will likely be Tabb’s biggest scoring threat this season. Tabb should continue to improve from last season, but could be overshadowed in an otherwise loaded Bay Rivers District.
Head Coach: Jimmy Newell
2016 Classification: 3A Conference 25
2015 Record: 5-5-2
Players to Watch: Danny Cretney (senior, M), Connor Massaro (senior, M), Noah Leon (senior, F), Jared Ford (senior, F)
Season Outlook: Coming off a .500 season, Newell can take solace in the experience of Warhill’s roster. The Lions graduated just three seniors last year, and return a number of solid players who garnered postseason accolades. Perhaps the biggest veteran for Warhill is Leon, who earned first-team All-Conference 25 honors last season after leading the Lions in scoring. Leon will flip from playing an attacking midfielder to striker as needed, but he provides a potent scoring threat. Another key piece is Ford, who was a second-team All-Conference pick last season. Leon and Ford combine to form a formidable scoring duo that should give the Lions a lift. The midfield will be held down by Cretney and Massaro, both seniors who bring different skill sets to the table. While Massaro will be more a defensive midfielder, Cretney will work up the field and aid in the attack. With so much returning experience, Warhill should be much improved from last year.
Head Coach: Ryan Hagerty
2016 Classification: 3A Conference 27
2015 Record: 15-3-3
Players to Watch: Max Poelker (senior, M), Bailey McClure (senior, F), Gavin Homan (senior, D), Jacob Reimers (junior, GK)
Season Outlook: Hagerty will be fielding his strongest team in his time at York this season. With five of the best players in the Bay Rivers District, York should be poised to compete for a state championship. The Falcons return four first-team All-State selections from last year in Poelker, McClure, Homan and Reimers. Poelker, a Longwood University commit, is a solid two-way midfielder who can get back on defense while also helping push up the field. McClure and fellow forward Cameron Dail will be the go-to targets on offense. Both have cannons for legs and can generate scoring chances from outside the box. Homan is a tall, physical defender who can work his attacker off the ball and shut down runs with ease. If all else fails, Reimers has proven to be a brick wall in the net after posting one of the best goals against averages in the state last year in Group 3A. Having lost in the regional semifinals in four of the last five seasons, Hagerty said he hopes this is the year York can break through and make a state tournament run.