Consistency and balance have always been trademarks of Findlay High boys soccer teams, Ohio’s fifth winningest program with 485 career wins.
And it looks like the 2014 version of the Trojans will continue that trend.
Findlay graduated nine players from a team that went 11-5-2 overall and tied for second (5-1-1) in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. But nine letter winners are back for Bill Geaman Jr., who begins his seventh season as head coach and 25th overall at Findlay with an 89-31-19 career record.
Findlay graduated four of its top eight offensive threats in Matt Armand, who led the Trojans with 15 goals, Max MacDonald, who scored 8 goals and led the team with 16 assists, Aaron Lewis (13 goals, 8 assists) and Chris Turley (7 goals, 3 assists). MacDonald, who also had 124 intercepts, and Lewis were first-team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference picks.
Counter-balancing Findlay’s offensive losses is the return of some of the Trojans’ top defensive players, notably senior defenders Mason Hill, a first-team all-TRAC selection who led the team in both steals (21) and intercepts (141), and Kyle Burns (16 steals, 74 intercepts),and junior midfielders Alexander Majors (15 steals, 112 intercepts) and Jarett Lewis (65 intercepts).
Geaman also must replace goalie Clay Hildebrand (98 saves), defenders Carl Herron (76 intercepts) and Austin Secor (33 interceps), and midfielders Nate Leo and Toby Lawson (3 goals each).
As Geaman says, though, there is a solid returning group who “have been waiting in the wings,” including two second-team all-league midfielders in junior Justin Allsop, who had 8 goals, 6 assists, 17 steals and 54 intercepts, and senior Brandon Gault (8 goals, 3 assists, 12 steals).
Also back are senior midfielders Levi VanDerMolen, who was third on the team with 10 goals and tied for second with 17 steals, Rasheed Ajala (5 goals in 8 games) and Jimmy Staschiak and junior midfielder Ryan Montgomery, an honorable mention all-leaguer who had 8 goals, 12 assists and 12 steals.
Aaron Elchert, a junior, will take over for Hildebrand in goal.
In today’s season opener at Celina, Geaman will also be couting on senior defenders Colin Parker, Mitchell Lichtinger and Shane Hessling, junior midfielders Harry Snelling, Luke Taylor and Andrew Westrick, and freshman forwards Pace Thomas and Taylor Miles.
Toledo St. John’s, unbeaten in league matches the past two season, is the preseason favorite in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, especially with TRAC Player of the Year Camden Buescher and TRAC Goalkeeper of the Year Jarrett Karalfa both returning for their senior seasons.
Findlay opens league play at Toledo Central Catholic (Aug. 26) and at Toledo St. Francis (Sept. 2). The Trojans will host Toledo St. John’s in a key late-season league matchup on Sept. 30.