Boys soccer notes: Carroll off to another strong start
Bishop Carroll’s boys soccer team has made obvious progress in the last few seasons, thanks in part to last year’s senior class.
After years of finishing near the bottom of the City League standings, Carroll reached the state quarterfinals in 2010 and tied Kapaun for the league chamiponship last year.
But coach Mike Skaggs knew losing six starters from last season was going to make that upward progress difficult this year.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces on our team this year, but a lot of them are juniors and seniors who have been on JV the past couple of years, because we had such a strong group last year that there was no room for them on varsity,” Skaggs said.
A drive to continue the upward trend has helped Carroll to a 3-0-1 record, including a key 4-0 win over Rose Hill, and a 5-0 win over Newton in the Goddard/Campus tournament championship game.
“They saw what last year’s team did, and I think they want to make sure that they’re not the group that lets that all fall apart,” Skaggs said. “They’ve seen that they’ve set a standard here and they want to maintain that; plus, winning is fun.”
Team chemistry has also made an impact. Skaggs said this team might have the best attitude of any team he’s coached.
“This group really gets along well together; it’s a very positive environment that they have created, and they’re very supportive of each other,” Skaggs said. “In the past if someone made a mistake, their teammates would have ridden them pretty tough, but this group encourages each other instead.”
The combination of these two traits will be particularly important as Carroll enters City League play, which started with its tie Tuesday against East.
“It’s been the same mindset the whole season, I try to look at the bigger picture and tell them to focus on the next game,” Skaggs said. “The understand, especially in the City League, everybody is good.”
Carroll returns goalkeeper Luis Fernandez, as well as seniors Alex Morgan, Matt Price in the defense and Connor McGreevy in midfield.
Lemons’ new challenge — When Chris Lemons took over as Andover’s coach two years ago, he inherited a team that already knew its strengths and weaknesses. But after graduating eight players who took up significant playing time last year, Lemons was faced with a different coaching situation — creating uniformity almost from scratch.
“The challenge for me as a coach is to find out everybody’s strengths and find out where we can grow in our weaknesses and then combine everything together,” Lemons said. “I think for me as a coach, I’d rather have a challenge and see a team grow rather than being able to sit back.”
The Trojans are 2-1-1 with a 2-1 loss to Hutchinson (3-2), and a tie with Newton (4-1-2).
“Playing teams like Newton and Hutchinson right off the bat are really good because it throws us right in the fire,” Lemons said. “Those games showed our vulnerabilities.”
Although the team is young and lacking size, the technical skill will be its biggest strength this season.
“We’re very technical,” Lemons said. “We’ve got a lot of quality players on the team, so that kind of balances out the loss of physical ability.”
Andover returns goalkeeper Ryan Brimager, as well as Brandon Wampler, Tommy Fiszel, and Ian Fisher.