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Young Trojan soccer teams hope to improve from last year

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
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Oak Ridge’s varsity soccer teams finished last season with winning records and the hope is to play even better this season.

Both teams are on the younger side, according to coach Joe Champion, as the girls have only three seniors, while the boys play with six. Both teams have played two games this season and though they haven’t lost yet, they haven’t found out how to win either, as all four games have ended in a tie.

The girls tied Whitney, 1-1, on Tuesday, and then on Thursday, came from two goals down to tie Vista del Lago, 2-2. The Trojans feature three seniors; none of whom played with the team last year: Emma Reed, Justice O’Meara Winslow and Ava Nkadi. The team is led by a strong junior class including forward Alyssa Carranza, midfielder Alexa Myers and defender Sophia Barden. Six other juniors fill the roster including Kalyn Amecua, Danezza Graellos, Denice Graellos, Kate Olson, Sophia Vardas and Madison Wright.

Morgan Delwiche is the team’s lone sophomore, while freshmen on the team include Ruby Matsumoto, Jessica Polson, Dario Sciutto, Olivia Soloman, and Mia Thompson.

“We’ve got a young team, and we’re hoping they grow together,” Champion said. “It’s a good group. They’re motivated and they work hard. Hopefully, we’ll be set for the future.”

Last year’s team finished with a 7-6-4 record and reached the second round of the Division I playoffs before losing to the eventual section champion, Davis, 2-0. Champion hopes to go further this year.

In the win over Vista, the Trojans didn’t look so good in the first half, falling behind 2-0. A different team emerged from the locker room in the second half; however, as Oak Ridge dominated and managed a pair of goals, as the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Myers played a beautiful ball into the box off a free kick, which Carranza volleyed into the back of the net. The second goal featured a pair of freshmen, as Sciutto played a ball inside to Polson, who finished the play by putting the ball into the goal to tie the game.

“I liked everything about the second half,” coach Matt Jones said. “Our work rate, effort, decision making … all-around, we played great. We competed and showed great fight. That bounce-back ability is so important. That second half was a good sign. We had to be better, more aggressive and competitive in the second half and we were.”

On the boys’ side, the Trojans played two games last week and tied both Whitney and Vista del Lago, 1-1.

Justin Poerio, Erick Lippuner and Noah Sonenstein are key returning seniors along with Jake Trumball, Patrick Bailey and Murat Askin. Juniors include Cade Mawson, Dominick Paielli, Kyle Sarner, Giovanni Marsh, Justin Jones, Ezequiel Calvo, Kyle Lopes, Andrew Derr and Shane Konig. Alex Carpignano, Ethan Anderson, Tyler Trusner and Ryan Miller represent the sophomore class.

“We’ll have a different style of play this year that will be nice to watch,” Champion said. “We’ve got a lot of young players as well, as we graduated a few and lost some kids to the academy team.”

Last year’s team finished with an 8-7-2 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Just like the varsity girls’ team, Champion hopes for better things this year.

“The SFL is such a competitive league. If the close games go in our favor, if one or two goals go our way, we could have a better season,” Champion said. “We’re going to have to wait until the first round is through to see how we sit, but we hope to make the playoffs and advance. If we have some luck and stay healthy, we can put a strong season together.”