Thursday, October 02, 2014

OHS soccer deep with talent

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 8/27/2014

The expectations are sky high for the Ottawa High School boys soccer team.

The Cyclones return a slew of experienced players from last year’s squad which won a postseason match for the first time in five years. Ottawa fell to Baldwin in the regional final.

The expectations are sky high for the Ottawa High School boys soccer team.

The Cyclones return a slew of experienced players from last year’s squad which won a postseason match for the first time in five years. Ottawa fell to Baldwin in the regional final.

“This is the best team we’ve had since I have been here,” senior keeper Alex Stepp said. “We have a lot of experience on this team. We have a lot of returning players. We have a lot of good young guys.”

Ottawa will be a deep team with lots of weapons.

“We are deeper than ever,” fifth-year coach Daniel Nathan said. “We did not have a lot of seniors graduate. We have a lot of experience. The guys are ready to play. We have a lot of good freshmen coming in. We have a lot of seniors. We have a lot to take advantage of. We have depth to cover every aspect of the team. We can substitute a lot more.”

Ottawa not only has players with varsity experience, but are multi-talented.

“The quality is more evenly spread,” Nathan said. “A lot of people that can play different positions. The experience is deep. They understand each other, understand our system and what I am looking for very well. There is not a lot of basic things I have to go over.”

Stepp said, “most are two-year players. We have good natural talent. We have a solid team all around.”

The chemistry is built with most of them knowing and playing with each other for years.

“We are all good friends,” Stepp said. “We all know each other well. We are starting to know the freshmen too. We have a team going here.”

The defenders are highlighted by seniors Hayden Yancey and Eric Duarte. Returning up top are seniors Garrett Cruce and Connor Stepp. The midfield is led by returning sophomores Andrew Soph and Keegan Finch.

“We have Connor and Garrett to score some goals,” Stepp said. “We have good shooters and ball handlers on this team.

The players spent all summer playing soccer with each other twice a week. Nathan said between 20 and 30 players came out for each session.

“The most important thing is they played together all summer long,” Nathan said. “They got to know each other’s style of play. They got more touches on the ball. We came in in shape.”

Nathan said the experience allows him to add to the tactics.

“A few things we will do different,” Nathan said. “Our basic shape is not going to change. It is the way the positions are played. It might change the way we execute.

“The back is going to be strong. They will nearly be all seniors. No real part of the team that is a weak spot.”

The players also understand their competition.

“We have played all these teams,” Stepp said. “We are ready.”

Ottawa opens the season Tuesday at Eudora.

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