Kroner: Soccer notebook (and Nifty Fifty)

Kroner: Soccer notebook (and Nifty Fifty)

The Okaw Valley Conference is realigning next year.

For Monticello, the changes started this fall.

Coaches Lois Cryder and Tim Marry, who started soccer at the school in 1997, retired.

“Their presence will be missed,” said coach Dan Burkybile, who takes over a program that won regional titles three of the last five years.

Burkybile will face a series of changes in 2014. Current Okaw members Monticello and Unity will join two others that play soccer, St. Joseph-Ogden and St. Thomas More.

Those four schools will play a home-and-away series against each other to determine the league champion. Other members in the revised Okaw next year, Maroa-Forsyth and Rantoul, do not play soccer. Rantoul last fielded a soccer team in 2005.

For now, Monticello returns an All-Area first-teamer in striker Luke Hanselman. Now a junior and one of the Sages’ captains, he enters the season with 26 career assists, nine shy of the school career record held by his brother, Jacob.
Burkybile believes he has a strong nucleus to work with in his first season as head coach.

“We return our entire defense and two strikers (Hanselman and senior Zach Armstrong, a wrestling state qualifier),” Burkybile said.

A promising freshman is Brent Buffenbarger, a middle-school state qualifier in wrestling and cross-country.

St. Thomas More’s pursuit of a fifth consecutive Sangamon Valley Conference title will revolve around a diverse offense with multiple scoring threats as well as diversity in another area.

The Sabers have several nationalities represented.

Dennis Freeman (who sat out last year after transferring from Centennial), was born in Liberia, Africa. JeanBruno Omanga is from the Congo. Soleiman Allam is from Egypt. South Korean natives include Daniel Shin (who holds the Sabers’ season (33) and career (53) scoring records), Sam Kil, Mark Yoo and Jaden Hong.

In addition, Remy Collard’s family is from France, Demetrios Sofronis’ family is from Greece and Piotr Swiech’s family is from Poland.

Josh Koerner, STM’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, is now a senior. He was recognized last year in his first season of soccer.

“It is especially great to see upperclassmen new to the sport come out for the first time and learn to love the game so quickly,” STM coach James Johnson said. “All the credit has to go to the players, who are not only building on the STM soccer tradition but also encouraging their friends to give soccer a try.”

Bismarck-Henning’s fledgling program is in position to set records with every goal scored and every match won.

That happens when a school starts a program.

The Blue Devils — on their own after a co-op with Hoopeston Area ended — scored a 5-2 win against Georgetown-Ridge Farm in their first match.

Coach Michelle Reifsteck’s team has 22 members, including two athletes who started last year for the co-op team, junior midfielder Skylar Nuetzmann and sophomore forward Drake Swinford. Five other current Blue Devils played last year.

“These kids have worked hard over the summer and in our practices,” Reifsteck said. “I think with the group we have, we will compete in all of our games.”

B-H has four seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and 12 freshmen, including forward Blake Reifsteck.

“With such a young team, we will experience some growing pains,” Michelle Reifsteck said, “but I think the hard work will pay off and we will have a successful inaugural season.”

All-Area forward Emmanuel Komba is one of the standouts returning for Central.

“If I had to guess, I would say eight or nine of our starters this year would start if they attended another Big 12 school,” Central coach Steve Whiteley said. “We have a well-rounded team with excellent players all over the field.

“We will be a dynamic attacking team with lots of creativity in our central midfield.”
Komba is among six returning starters. Three of the holdovers are seniors, Tim Hamm, Feli Keti and Robbie Welch. The others are junior Alex Zarco and sophomore Juan Garcia.

Three underclassmen earned All-Area first-team accolades last year: Hanselman, Komba and Shin.

Seven of last year’s second-team selections are back. They include Urbana teammates Saul Downie and Darian Gingold, Hoopeston Area teammates Brennan Crose and Mason Jett as well as Uni High’s Tristan Gurtler, St. Thomas More’s Josh Koerner and Judah Christian’s Michael Linsner.

When Hoopeston Area coach John Klaber calls for a goalkeeper, he can’t simply use a first name. The Cornjerkers’ goalies are senior Trey Anderson and freshman Trey Layden. Anderson had five saves in a recent win. ... Monticello’s Nathan Mumm is a three-sport athlete who not only excels in soccer but also in basketball and baseball. ...Oakwood junior goalkeeper Landon Turner had shutouts in three of the Comets’ first six matches, raising his career total to eight. The school record (nine) belongs to Adam Barr. ... Schlarman’s 15th-year program entered this season with 198 career wins. The Hilltoppers are 0-1 and will play Saturday at Blue Ridge. ... St. Joseph-Ogden’s fifth-year program features the season (28) and career (33) record-holder for goals (Austin Baker) as well as the season (14) and career (24) record-holder for assists (Cameron Harpst). ... St. Thomas More sophomore Michael Behrensmeyer is regarded as “far and away the most improved player since last season,” according to Johnson. ... Three-year defensive starter Colin Kelley was the STM repeat choice last year for the Danny Dahlquist Award, which is presented to the Saber “who most closely resembles the heart, determination and loyalty to friends that Danny demonstrated throughout his life,” Johnson said. ... Centennial junior midfielder Aidan Reilly’s father, Seamus, is a former Chargers soccer coach. ... Chargers junior midfielder Nathaniel Hinds is the third of three brothers to play for the school. He follows Jonathan and Joshua. ... Danville senior Eziquio Flores returns after missing last fall with a knee injury. Teammate Dakota Gash, a track and field standout, is playing soccer for the first time and coach Chris Griffin said he “will utilize his speed and engine to harass opposing back lines.” ... The Fisher/GCMS team added junior Clay Gaesser this fall. A two-sport athlete, “he ran a (track) relay with a couple of soccer players, who also run track, and they convinced him to come out for the team,” Bunnies coach Levi Horsch said.

Nifty 50

David Anderson    Urbana    Jr.    Midfielder
Zach Armstrong    Monticello    Sr.    Forward
Austin Baker    St. Joseph-Ogden    Sr.    Forward
Clayton Bateman    Schlarman    Sr.    Defender
Josh Brooks    Mahomet-Seymour    Sr.    Forward
Cole Burris    Oakwood    Sr.    Forward
Brennan Crose    Hoopeston Area    Sr.    Forward
Noah Darr    Salt Fork/Westville    Jr.    Midfielder
Saul Downie    Urbana    Sr.    Midfielder
A.J. Ellis    Mahomet-Seymour    Jr.    Goalie
Dennis Freeman    St. Thomas More    Jr.    Midfielder
Juan Garcia    Central    So.    Midfielder
Jonathan Garver    First Baptist    Sr.    Midfielder
Trevor Giannetti    Unity    Jr.    Midfielder
Darian Gingold    Urbana    Sr.    Fullback
Dylan Grammer    Blue Ridge    Jr.    Forward
Korbyn Gray    Iroquois West    Sr.    Defender
Mark Gredy-Myhre    Unity    Sr.    Midfielder
Cameron Griffin    Danville    Jr.    Goalie
Tristan Gurtler    Urbana Uni High    Sr.    Goalie
Tim Hamm    Central    Sr.    Forward
Luke Hanselman    Monticello    Jr.    Forward
Cameron Harpst    St. Joseph-Ogden    Sr.    Midfielder
Nathaniel Hinds    Centennial    Jr.    Midfielder
Randall Hornbaker    Urbana Uni High    Sr.    Forward
Jon Huff    Danville    Sr.    Defender
Peter Ivanov    Urbana Uni High    Sr.    Midfielder
Mason Jett    Hoopeston Area    Sr.    Defender
Kyler Jones    St. Thomas More    Sr.    Midfielder
Josh Koerner    St. Thomas More    Sr.    Defender
Emmanuel Komba    Central    Jr.    Forward
Chris Kuchefski    Schlarman    Sr.    Goalie
Michael Linsner    Judah Christian    Sr.    Defender
Hunter Lowry    Fisher/GCMS    Sr.    Forward
Brishan McCowan    Unity    Sr.    Defender
Nathan Mumm    Monticello    Jr.    Defender
Bjoern Ole Voll    St. Joseph-Ogden    Sr.    Midfielder
Caleb Parker    Watseka    Sr.    Defender
Aidan Reilly    Centennial    Jr.    Midfielder
David Ricks    Fisher/GCMS    Sr.    Midfielder
Lane Shafer    Mahomet-Seymour    Jr    Midfielder
Daniel Shin    St. Thomas More    Sr.    Forward
Hugo Solorzano    Watseka    Sr.    Midfielder
Kurt Son    Schlarman    Sr.    Midfielder
Gracson Torres    Danville    Sr.    Midfielder
Landon Turner    Oakwood    Jr.    Goalie
Diamond Williams    Centennial    Jr.    Striker
Elijah Yates    Hoopeston Area    Sr.    Midfielder
Andrew Young    Fisher/GCMS    Sr.    Midfielder
Blayne Zeigler    Blue Ridge        Jr.     Goalie

Area Top 10
1. Central    2-0-1    Six starters among eight letter winners back
2. Urbana    1-0    Five starters among seven letter winners back
3. Unity    2-1    Six starters among 10 letter winners back
4. St. Thomas More    2-0-1    Six starters among 17 letter winners back
5. Urbana Uni High    3-1    Six starters among 12 letter winners back
6. St. Joseph-Ogden    2-1-1    Five starters among six letter winners back
7. Hoopeston Area    2-0    Eight starters among 12 letter winners back
8. Centennial    0-1    Seven starters among 11 letter winners back
9. Blue Ridge    2-1-1    Three starters among 14 letter winners back
10. Mahomet-Sey.    2-1    Ten letter winners return for Bulldogs
NEAR MISSES (listed alphabetically): Danville, Judah Christian, Monticello, Oakwood