Academy pg 10 9-6-18

WOODSTOCK – Paul Rearden hails from Scotland.
So it only figures that The Woodstock Academy boys’ soccer coach gave his team an example from the British Isles to equate to their situation this season.
He told the team how his favorite English soccer club, Liverpool, lost its top player around Christmas last year.
Rearden said everybody thought the season was over for the side.
“Liverpool actually became a better team after he left,” Rearden said. “That’s not a negative. Everybody else knew they had to step up and the support players became the superstars.”
Rearden told that to the team because the Centaurs are in similar straits.
They have lost over 65 percent of their scoring from last season when they finished 12-7-1 to graduation.
“It’s a great opportunity for the boys coming in to fill those gaps. They just have to believe it,” Rearden said.
The team has seen Italian exchange student Jacopo Ambrosetti, who led the team with 17 goals, move on as has Jack Gelhaus who finished with seven goals and 10 assists. Eli Child (3 goals, 1 assist) also has graduated.
And with them, has gone some of the team’s leadership.
“We have to step up because we did lose some key players from last year. I think we have enough players to fill the roles that those players had,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb, a senior midfielder, will serve as a captain for a second consecutive season. He was not at 100 percent for much of last season, but still contributed four goals and two assists.
“We definitely need to find some goal scoring this year, but I do think kids will step up. Every year, someone steps up, it will happen,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb and fellow midfielders Sean Rearden, Doug Newton and Huck Gelhaus will be helping to set up strikers Aaron Johnson and Eric Phongsa as well as looking for opportunities for themselves.
The Centaurs may not need to be a prolific scoring side.
Rearden is pretty confident in his team’s defensive capabilities.
The team’s other returning captain, Cole Hackett, plays in the back with fellow senior Chase Anderson and Lucas Couture and juniors Nate Craig and Aidan Morin.
Woodstock Academy also lost starting keeper Connor Huda.
Junior Jack Lotter will take over in front of the net.
“Technically, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper. He hasn’t got Huda’s size, but technically, he’s really good,” Rearden said.
Rearden feels the Centaurs have the talent to be as good as last season.
Woodstock Academy qualified for the ECC and state tournaments and won a game in each.
The Centaurs downed Fitch in a play-in game, but lost to Lyman in an ECC quarterfinal.
They moved on to the Class L state tournament where they beat Brookfield in a hard-fought, first-round match at home, 4-3, before falling in a second-round match on the road at Masuk.
Unlike the Centaurs girls soccer team, the boys will stay in Division II in the ECC this season with the likes of Waterford, Bacon Academy, New London and Ledyard.
The Centaurs also meet Norwich Free Academy twice and will play another of the league’s best, East Lyme.
“East Lyme is always good. They lose kids and get more back. We have NFA twice and I’m very excited about that,” Holcomb said.
Rearden, in his third year at the helm, still thinks his team needs to find a quality to be successful this season.
“Belief,” Rearden said is the key to the season for his club. “It seems like the varsity boys are a real quiet group at the moment. That’s got to change. We have to adjust to the physicality of (high school soccer). We have more premier soccer players (on the team) than we have had the previous two, but this is not premier soccer. It’s going to be a lot more physical. Premier soccer, you normally play against those your age. They are playing against men now.”
The Centaurs open at 4 p.m. Sept. 7 on the road at Stonington.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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