Young Cougars will focus on fundamentals
Several new names will make their debut for the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys soccer team in 2006 with each of the fresh faces having a chance to make an immediate impact on the Cougars program.
But Northwest coach Todd Boren believes the impact made by the players won't be on an individual basis, but as a team.
"Right now, it seems we've got a lot of guys who appear to be team-oriented and are willing to work together," Boren said.
Nineteen Cougars were named to this year's squad including six seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores, and one freshman. Even with the large number of upper classmen, the Cougars are fielding a fairly young squad with only seven players returning with varsity experience.
"We've got a lot of guys coming up from the junior varsity and filling in holes that were vacated last year," Boren said. "Experience-wise that's what we're lacking."
Among the starters who do return are senior outside midfielder Jamil Chammas in his third year with the varsity, senior second-year letterman Chris Goodger, junior center back Brad Schnefke, junior outside midfielder Matt Cunard and senior center midfielder Travis Knoll in his third year on varsity.
Boren describes Cunard as "a well-rounded, versatile, solid player" and Knoll as "a team-oriented player with a positive attitude." Both players will likely play key roles for the Cougars in 2006 with Cunard providing an outside attack while Knoll helps with the tutelage of sophomore center midfielders Matt Spero and Dan McMullen.
Besides Spero and McMullen, other varsity newcomers who hope to make an impact include 6-foot-2-inch sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Martin, whose throwing and punting skills helped him record nine wins as a JV keeper last season. Strikers Tyler Cindrich (Jr.), Zach Cole (So.) and Alex Reynolds (So.) round out the list of notable newcomers.
Boren describes this year's team as a team whose foot skills will impress and whose protection of the ball will be paramount.
"I'm hoping one of the strengths of this team is going to be the ability to possess the ball," Boren said. "We're going to emphasize the pass and possess game. Right now we've got a lot of guys who are really talented with their feet. So passing and possessing and defense are going to be the things we emphasize."
Boren knows his young squad has its work cut out for it in the talent-stacked Sunflower League, but remains optimistic that the team-oriented atmosphere that was fostered in tryouts will spell success in the regular season.
"Being in the Sunflower League the schedule is always tough," Boren said. "I can only imagine that Olathe East is going to be tough, Olathe South is going to be tough. It's the usual suspects. But there's only one direction for us to go and the guys from last year have recognized that and are working hard to go that route."
The season began on Tuesday, Aug. 29, as the team opened play at the Olathe Soccer Invitational at the Olathe District Activities Center.
Results were not available at press time. The tournament will continue throughout the week and will wrap up on Saturday, Sept. 2.