by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s boys soccer coach Mike Turner has a veteran group back and is hoping the Berries can get back to their championship ways.
The Berries have 14 seniors out for the team this year. They’re surely hoping to improve on their 7-11 record of a year ago and Turner said there’s no reason why they shouldn’t as there is no shortage of talent.
“We’ve got some pretty good seniors that are returning,” he said. “I’m really optimistic. We’ve got a lot of good seniors returning and some good leaders finally. We’ve lacked a lot of leadership and we’ve got it now. They really understand what I want and they’ve set some team goals and individual goals.”
Turner said the first thing he wants to see is a better start to the season. Last season the Berries got off to a poor start where they were giving up a lot of goals that set a bad tone for the year.
The second thing he wants to see is the Berries doing a better job of competing for a North Central Conference title.
“In the middle of the season we’ve been right there in the conference,” he said. “It always seems to happen against Marion or Kokomo we’ll get lost and we’ll end up falling off at the end.
“The last two years the conference has been the best it’s been in a long time. Two years ago with two games left to play there were four teams tied for first place. Last year we were right there at the end and then fell off.”
And then of course the Berries want to get back on top in sectional play. It’s been four years since they last won a sectional title after winning 15 titles in the program’s first 16 years of existence.
“This year we seem to be more driven and have more leadership,” Turner said. “You have to have leaders on the field. With this group there’s a lot of them. They’re taking ownership of the team. I’m really optimistic and think we’ll make a good run at it. The guys are pumped up and they’re tired of losing in the sectional to Marion.”
The Berries used multiple goalkeepers last year but Turner said that Jesus Martin has taken the job with his play this year.
“He had some struggles last year but has worked all summer and has good focus. He’s one of the team captains,” Turner said.
Another captain is midfielder Luis Gonzalez.
“He’s going to play more midfield instead of forward. He has really good touch and understands what we want from our midfielders setting up our forwards, and he can score some goals,” Turner said.
Heath Vincent is another captain for the Berries.
“He’s going to anchor my defense in front of the defense,” Turner said. “He was an outside defender last year and did really well. In the early season we’ve put him in the center and he’s been dialed in pretty good.”
Cooper Kinnaman is another key player in the middle of the Berries’ defense according to the Logan coach.
“The last couple of practices have been pretty promising,” Turner said. “In the first week we’ve been focusing on defense, defense, defense. We lost six games last year by one goal. We’d outplay the other team and we wouldn’t finish. We’ve got to focus better as a team and be more solid defensively. We put a lot of effort in over the summer on one-on-one defending and corner defending.
“In big games we gave up a lot of goals on corner kicks. That’s been a big focus on where we need to get better. I know we’ll give up some goals on corners, but we need to get better there.”
The Logan coach added that underclassmen are pushing the multitude of seniors for playing time.
“I’m making it tough on them. I told them I didn’t want to be too senior heavy. They’ve been practicing hard and playing hard. It’ll be interesting,” he said. “I’ve got some good underclassmen and I need to get them time. It’s going to be tricky.”
The Berries open at home next Tuesday against Frankfort.
The Comets finished out the season strong last year, winning five of their final seven regular-season games before a 1-0 loss to Rochester in sectional play. Peru then defeated Rochester 1-0 in the sectional final.
The Comets are hoping to pick up where they left off and have a veteran group to do so.
“I’ve got a strong junior class, a strong nucleus of five in total,” Comet coach Narciso Sanchez said. “We’ve got three really good seniors, so we will be led by our upperclassmen this year. I think we should be in control of most of our games this year.”
The Caston coach is looking for a lot of scoring from his veteran striker combination of Braden Moss and Alex Howdeshell.
“And the engine that makes our motor run is Victor Arturo-Rios, our senior midfielder,” Sanchez added.
Third-year starting goalkeeper Nate Cousins also returns. Sanchez is looking for big contributions from Santiago Henderson and Luke Sutton on defense as well.
The Comets have just 15 out for the team this year so they can’t afford many injuries.
Team goals include improving on last year’s 7-9 record, winning the Caston Tournament and the sectional title.
Sanchez added he was impressed with how his squad competed against bigger schools this summer in what were very competitive games.
The Comets host Culver next Tuesday to open their season.
Winamac coach Mark Eber is certainly expecting his squad to improve on its 1-15-1 record from a year ago.
“We’ve got about 14 or 15 regulars back. We’ve also picked up a couple of new players that fit in good,” Eber said.
The Winamac coach said the team will be led by Dylan Hintz, Gage Garpow, Scott Starks and Jordan Bitterling.
“Obviously we want to win our fair share of games and get back to being competitive on a game in, game out basis,” Eber said. “I think we’ve got more work in this summer than we have in the past.
“It’ll come down to how quickly we come together. I’m a lot more at ease now that I was a year ago.”
The Warriors open their season at home against Kouts a week from Thursday.