The Century Patriots are first up to defend their state title from a year ago, but replacing all their pieces will be the biggest challenge they face this fall.
As the Patriots start their quest to win back-to-back state titles, the faces that delivered for this team are gone, ushering in a new wave of talent, and a new era of CHS soccer.
“We graduated a lot of seniors,” says head coach Ryan Okerson. “A lot of good players. But I’m hoping that we can find those players that fill in. Last year’s season definitely showed us that we had some players at the reserve level that can step up and take the reigns that we needed to.”
Reserves that saw playing time due to a two-week period where mostly JV players had to play big varsity minutes ahead of the WDA tournament. With that experience, it’s now time to see what they can do with a full season.
“Yeah, we had some big losses,” says Center/Attacking Midfielder Chance Bowlinger. “And what happens with the loss of seniors is the loss of physicality. But we have some young players that are coming up that are very technical and move the ball well. And with that speed of play, we’re really good at moving the ball around. And regardless of how physical the other team is, they can’t catch us.”
A combination of speed and selfishness, a deadly combo at this level. But another lethal trait that the Patriots could showcase is their ability to come back.
“We know that people on our team are not afraid to shoot,” says striker Anthony Cleary. “Not afraid to pass. We don’t have any ball hogs on this team which is one of the great things.”
“They’ve also got to be a bit creative,” says Okerson. “Which teams in the past have maybe missed on the creativity part. They’ve been kind of doing what the coaches have wanted them to. And sometimes, with soccer being a fluid sport like it is, you can’t always do what the coach wants you to do. Sometimes you got to surprise everybody.”
The Patriots feel good about their chances at repeating in a wide-open WDA race this year. With under two weeks until the season begins, Century knows their target is big.
“We have high aspirations,” says Bowlinger. “But every team is out to get us. We have to go into every game knowing that every team is going to want to win. So we’re going to have to go in harder. Every game is going to be a fight, no matter who we’re playing.”