With a year of experience, Greenon High School boys soccer is poised to make another run in the Division III postseason.
A year ago, the Knights won their first Ohio Heritage Conference championship and advanced to a D-III district final for the first time since 2011.
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“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Knights coach Jeff Nickles. “We’ve got a lot of personnel back. We’re working every day to get those guys game fit and see what kind of potential we can bring out of them. Whether or not we caught lightning in a bottle last year remains to be seen. We have a quality team. The talent is there. The attitude is there. We’re working on making it all come together.”
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All but five players return from last year’s squad, meaning the Knights will be as productive as ever.
“The results were better than what we expected last year, but now that we have that under our belts, that’s what we’re chasing again this season,” said Nickles.
Last year’s Greenon squad was the first boys Clark County team to advance to a district since 2016. They had won 14 straight games before falling Cincinnati Seven Hills 5-1.
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“We got humbled a bit by Seven Hills,” Nickles said. “The next step is to go past that, put the wins on the board and go farther than that.”
Greenon returns six seniors and junior leading scorer Trent Green, who had 22 goals and eight assists last season.
“Other than obviously drawing down the defense, he’s a great vocal leader,” Nickles said. “He pushes the guys in practice. Obviously, he can score goals and that’s great. The ability to attract attention allows some other guys to maybe put some goals in the net. He’s creating a bit of trouble up top so to speak.”
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Other returners include attacking players Mason Hayslip, a sophomore, and junior Jeremiah Mauch.
Seniors Bryant Rudy and Justin Paulus return at defensive midfield. The Knights also return their entire defensive unit, including juniors Damien Beck, Nathan Hawks and Chase Trainer.
The majority of this year’s team will likely be back in 2020, Nickles said.
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“Each year, we hope to take a little step, take a little step and build on what we did the year before,” he said.
5 things to know
• Northwestern is seeking its fourth straight Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division title. The Warriors graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad that went 13-2-1.
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• Catholic Central coaching legend Shane Latham is back for his 34th year with the program. The Irish coach ranks second on the Ohio High School Athletic Association unofficial all-time wins list with 484 coaching victories. Catholic Central went 4-13 last season.
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• Springfield High School went 5-12 last season, finishing with a school record for victories.
• Emmanuel Christian will field a co-ed team for the second straight season due to low participation numbers. The Lions went 1-14 a year ago.
• Southeastern won’t field a team due to low participation numbers. The Trojans went 0-10-1 last season.
5 players to watch
• Trent Green, Greenon: The junior had 22 goals and eight assists for the Knights a year ago.
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• Dalton McGill, Northwestern: The senior scored 16 goals and five assists for the Warriors last fall.
• Cameron Elliott, Springfield: The senior set a school record for goals scored in a season last year with 12.
• Ian Wolfe, West Liberty-Salem: The senior was named OHC player of the year as a junior after scoring 26 goals.
• Kaden Bryan, Yellow Springs: The junior scored 24 goals and had 24 assists for the Bulldogs.
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