Both Glenwood boys and girls soccer teams crank up the 2020 season on the road as they will battle Mount Paran in Georgia for each team’s first game on Feb. 8. The next contest for both squads will be an area game Feb. 18. versus Springwood.
This season will be an important journey as both teams finished second last year losing the 2019 championship games by identical scores. The Gators lost to arch rival Lee Scott 2-1 in the title game and for the first time in six years, the Lady Gators lost 2-1 to Tuscaloosa Academy.
“We want to go back,” said girl’s coach John Robertson. “Our goal this year is to take home the state title.”
Boy’s coach Eddie Miranda also hopes to get back to the finals and feels he has several players who contributed last year to step up now that they have had a year of competition under their belt.
For the girls, gone are Brianna Fanning and Emily Sawtelle, two stalwarts that made the all-tournament team in 2019. However, the cupboard is not bare as top scorers Jordan Wheeler and Karsyn Floyd both are back and will be expected to continue getting goals on offense. In goal for the Lady Gators is keeper Taylor Johnson. Johnson had six shutouts last year as the Lady Gators had only two losses, including the title game in 2019. The big change will be the improvement of Brooke Sidlik.
“We moved Brooke to midfielder. She was a starter and played last year and this will be an important as to how we play and how our team does. She is going to have a lot of responsibility but I think she is up to the task,” said Robertson.
The young Obert sisters, Cailyn and Carli will also return. Carli was a starter until the third game when she tore her ACL and was out the rest of the year.
“If she comes back and plays like she did before she was hurt, then we will be good. That also goes for Katie Suarez, who had two knee injuries and missed two of her three years. Katie will probably come off the bench at the start of the year but her senior leadership and desire to win will help us,” added Robertson.
Add to the varsity from last year are Jennifer Ortiz, Dakota Wood, Katelyn Johnson, Natalie McKay, Bailey Carmean, Riley Curtis and Emily Ivey and the Lady Gators do not have a lack of experience and ability to move players around. Kyndal Keyt and Lillie Hanzes, despite their youth, will also be expected to play varsity and will start on the JV with Abbie Taylor and Madyson Key.
“We have a lot of options and how these players mature in their roles will be important to our success,” added Robertson.
Coach Miranda is also excited about his team as he now dresses out no less than 33 players for varsity and junior varsity soccer.
“It has been great and our young players will have added another year along with our upper classmen and I hope we are going to have a good season,” he said of his 2020 team.
The Gators have several new players that could, depending on their ability to meld into team play, make a big difference in Glenwood’s chances to return to the title game. New to the team are Austin and Daryl Monn and Colton Evans, all players coming from football that Miranda feels that their athletic skills can add to soccer. Matthew Rud, Hayden Schwind and newcomer Ethan Craw will also be added to the mix with Craw being the most interesting addition. Craw is currently playing basketball but will move to soccer once the season is complete.
“Ethan has played soccer in his homeland since he was a small child and could be special for us,” admitted Miranda.
Seniors expected to lead the varsity are top scorer Cameron Stamps, who made the all-tournament team in 2019, three-year player Luke Davidson and goalie Grant Parham. Skylar Somers is expected to be Parham’s backup and starter in goal for the JV. From the 9th grade are last year’s starters Troy Billingslea and Carson Long. You do not expect a lot from 8th graders but Glenwood has two that started last year and one of those was also a 2019 all-tournament player, Griffin Montroy. The other is Tucker Mims, a starter since the 6th grade. Expected to play and add to the Glenwood roster are seniors Holden Tate and Drew White and juniors Jared Floyd, Garrett Hall and Greg Hyche. Sophomores also expected to play are Ben Welsh and Alexander Schwind, who has played for three years. From the 9th grade is returnee Colton Corbett.
Underclassmen that could also see actions are 8th grade returnee from the JV, Hunter Warren and 7th grader Nate Kempisty.
Miranda has not decided on all 10 starters on the field with Parham in goal as he reports, “We need to see who improves and has shown they deserve to stay. Right now we have a lot of players in the mix.”
Miranda also reports a strong area as he must face Lee Scott during regular area play as well as Springwood, a team that Glenwood split their two regular season games in 2019.