Graham girls soccer off to fast start

Tristan Bogan endured a winless season during his one year as Graham boys soccer coach in 2013. And looking back at the experience, he realizes it wasn’t the best fit.

When the Graham girls job came open the next year, he jumped at it.

“My personality works a little better with the girls,” he said. “I think with the boys, generally what works is a little more intensity and aggression and lighting a fire under their butts. For the girls, that works for some of them. But most of the time, they’ll do what you ask of them as long as you show you’re invested in them.”

The Falcons appear to have sensed a caring approach from Bogan this year. After going 3-12-1 and 4-11-2 his first two years, they’re off to a 2-0-1 start, outscoring their opponents by a combined 11-2.

A 2-2 tie with Miami East this season also is indicative of the strides the program seems to be making. The Falcons lost to the Vikings 9-1 in 2014 and 2-0 last year.

“We’re looking to bump up our win total this year and talked about goals as lofty as winning our division in the Central Buckeye Conference,” Bogan said.

Joining the girls program has given Bogan a chance to reunite with his step-daughter (freshman JV player Madeline Shearer) and her friends after coaching them in youth leagues. And it’s a group that doesn’t shy away from hard work.

After taking the mandatory month off after last season, they hit the weight room and then were faithful to show up for workouts and conditioning throughout the offseason.

“It’s pretty easy to lay back and enjoy the summer, but these kids put in a dedicated effort to get better,” he said.

Senior wing Taylor White leads the CBC in scoring with four goals and two assists. Senior midfielders Alli Neeld and Greta Rembold have been solid, and the top defenders are junior Macey Blankenship and senior Lilly Henkle.

Junior goalie Ashton Curnutte has already recorded two shutouts.

“It’s nice to see the kids buy into the program and take on the changes and challenges we’ve been throwing at them,” Bogan said. “They’re exceeding my expectations.”

The Graham boys soccer team has one of the top players in the area in senior forward Hunter Kauffman, a three-time All-CBC pick.

“He’s a once-every-10-years kind of player,” coach Ryan Stradling said. “He’s the best that has come through Graham in quite a while.

“In my opinion, he’s the best player in the conference. He didn’t get that last year. Hopefully, that will change this year. “

Kauffman will need to carry a young team, which has just three seniors and three juniors.

One of the promising youngsters is freshman defender Andrew Robeson.

“He’s a very big part of what we do,” Stradling said.

The Falcons have a modest goal of finishing .500.

“We really don’t have many kids that come from the select program,” Stradling said. “They come from the (Soccer Association for Youth) program where it’s parent-coached. When they jump into high school soccer, it’s a whole new world to most them.”

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