Maumee Boys Soccer No Longer Under The Radar In 2017

Maumee forward Braden Wagener controls the ball during a 2016 contest. Wagener was an all-district and All-NLL selection last year, when he totaled 11 goals and nine assists as a junior. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — With 13 varsity players returning off last year’s 11-7-2 district finalist team, expectations remain very high for Maumee boys soccer in 2017. “Yeah, we’re bringing back a few,” said Maumee boys soccer coach Doug Everhart. “It’s really nice. If you look at our overall lineup, we’re still basically mostly juniors, so we’re going to see a lot of them for another year after this. The team has set some pretty high goals this year. There are a lot of expectations and that also brings a lot more pressure. “Last year we were able to stay under the radar almost entirely until tournament time, but this year I don’t think I can get away with that.” Though the Panthers graduated a dynamic duo of All-Northern Lakes League players in goalkeeper/forward Hunter Thomasson and defender Reese Hickey, they still return two all-district players in junior forward Braden Wagener and classmate and midfielder Kyle Robinson. Wagener scored 11 goals and assisted on nine more last year and Robinson – who is also the kicker on Maumee’s football team – totaled eight goals and six assists. “Unfortunately, we have to make up for about 25 goals that Hunter scored,” Everhart said. “One of the things they have been working very hard on – especially Braden – is trying to do more finishing. He’s no secret anymore. Teams are going to be focusing on him, so he’s already started recognizing that and is also dumping the ball to the guy that is wide open in the middle. I’m hoping he can still get 25 goals this year. “Kyle took on the role as one of our captains this year. He’s got a lot on his plate and I’m enjoying how he is balancing everything. It’s really nice having two very strong people on the left side with Braden and Kyle both.” The Panthers’ offense also returns senior midfielders Justin Albright (goal, two assists), Nate Gauthier and Brock Sautter (two goals, assist), senior forward Bryan Pouter (three goals, two assists last year) and junior forward Tyler Nayfack (goal, 10 assists). “Offensively, we have the same starting lineup for the most part,” Everhart said. “Between Justin Albright and Nate Gauthier, they have already scored four or five goals on the right side this preseason. Bryan Pouter played part-time goalie last year, but is playing full-time as a right outside forward for us. “Having given Tyler Nayfack some helpful reminders, he has gone from an average of maybe two or three shots a game to six to eight a game. He has definitely stepped up.” Additional contributors to Maumee’s 2017 offense will be senior forward Cole Imm, junior forward Ronaldo Gomez and freshman midfielder/forward Colin Wedge. “I think you’ll see a lot of Colin,” Everhart said. “We’ve seen a lot of offense so far in the preseason, which is what I expect from the kids we have,” Everhart said. Back from the Panthers‘ successful 4-4-2 defense are back row members Lucas Krist (senior), Konner Byers (junior), Brent Freeman (junior) and Sam LaChapelle (junior sweeper) and midfielders Jeremy Fradette (senior) and Adam Diegel (junior). “Konner has stepped up and taken Reese’s spot,” Everhart said. “We call Brent Freeman “The Hulk.” He’s just a wall in the back. He’s a nice addition to help with Reese’s physicality that we lost. “Jeremy Fradette is kind of the start of the offense a lot of times. He’s just a good ball control person who can serve the ball where needed.” Everhart went on to say that LaChapelle never gets the credit he deserves. “He is such a strong player,” he said. Freshman goalkeeper Isaac Tolbert will take over in the net for Maumee this year. He will get help from classmate Aidan McGann, who will play as a defensive midfielder. “Talk about a little bit of pressure,” Everhart joked. “But, Isaac has been doing fine. I’ve been pretty happy with his performances so far. “Aidan really shows a whole lot of promise. He has always been a sweeper in club ball, so he’s been working very hard on trying to get a little bit better and learning more about the outside schemes.” When asked where this team might be able to stack up against perennial Northern Lakes League powerhouses like Anthony Wayne, Northview and Perrysburg, Everhart said, “I’m very interested in seeing that.” “One of the things on their agenda is to go out and compete against these NLL teams and I’m not going to tell you that we might not have something for them this year,” he said. “I guess we shall see. I’m hoping we’re at least in the middle, if not closer to the top, this year. “Once we get to tournament time, if we stay healthy, I think we have a very good chance of making a good run.”

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