Host Ogdensburg Free Academy, Lisbon and Morristown will all be looking to pick up from strong 2013 seasons at the 2014 Gerard Cring Memorial Boys Soccer Tournament which opens on Friday.
Lisbon will meet Norwood-Norfolk in the opening game at 6 p.m. and OFA will meet Morristown at 8 p.m. in the first official games played on the Blue Devils turf field stadium.
The tournament will conclude on Friday with consolation and championship games at 6 and 8 p.m. The junior varsity tournament will be played at the adjoining OFA stadiums in 4 p.m. games.
OFA is the reigning NAC Central Division Champion (9-1-2 last season) and is playing with added incentive after suffering an upset loss to Canton in the Section 10 Class B Championship game, looking to extend a string of championships in their own tournament and win the christening of the new turf field.
Lisbon placed second in the NAC West last year at 11-1-2 behind 12-0-2 Harrisville.
Morristown went 11-3-0 in the NAC West a year ago and then reached the Section 10 Class D Championship where the Rockets rendered a strong outing dropping a 1-0 double overtime loss to Harrisville.
Norwood-Norfolk went 4-8-2 in the NAC East and reached the Class C Championship game where the Flyers fell to Brushton-Moira 2-0.
The Blue Devils return a solid nucleus from last year’s Central Division championship but must replace three first team All-NAC selections in Conor Hannan who was one of the top scorers in Section 10 and center halfback Matt Piercey who graduated and defender Dave Prudhomme who decided to play football as a senior.
Second team selection Rudy Binion also graduated but two second team selections return as natural leaders in junior Peyton Lalone and senior Nate Peo along with three-year goaltender in Jake Sias.
Lalone and Peo both played with the FC Freeze team all summer and Sias played in goal for Ogdensburg Pepsi-Place which placed second in the North Country Men’s Soccer Association Division I Playoffs.
Also returning to Coach Morley are seniors in Jordan Miller (MF), Seth Pinkerton (MF, D), Tristan Moore (Def), DaKota Brady (Def), Austin Putman (Def), Zach Ashley (MF/F), Andrew Putman (Def) and Hayden Woods (Def).
Another senior Austin Morley-Sloan, who missed last season recovering from knee surgery, adds further depth to the defense and he also played in the adult summer league with Ogdensburg Pepsi-The Place.
“We definitely have a very good group coming back but we have to replace some outstanding players. Tristan Moore will miss the first two weeks of the season after having surgery and we have to adjust to that,” said Coach Morley who will lead his team to a scrimmage at Indian River on Wednesday.
“I expect Peyton Lalone to have a big year up front. Nate Peo plays very well up front and in the midfield and Jake Sias is an outstanding three-year goaltender. Of the first year players junior Matt Ramm has looked very good at fullback.”
Ramm moves to the varsity level with fellow juniors in Ben Hammond (M/F), Matt Sholette (M/F), Austin Lalone (D), Dylan Jock (D), Josiah Fifield (M), Nolan Rishe (D) and Connor Ward.
First-year seniors in the program are Ryan Adams (D) and Elijah Ward (D).
Rounding out a 30-player roster are two sophomores in Will Kroeger (D) who is currently sidelined by injury and Noah Moore (M/F).
Lisbon: Coach Bill Reed’s Golden Knights feature a solid core of players who have elevated their skills through offseason endeavors. A core which is led by junior Adam Kelley who ranked among the top scorers in the section last year, earned NAC West MVP honors and was named the NAC MVP of the Watertown Times All-North Team.
Senior Tristan Vine, an All-NAC West Second Team All-Star, returns to anchor the Lisbon defense but the Knights must replace two First-Team All-Star selections in forward Jake Putney and goaltender Jimmy Robinson, a second team pick in sweeper Cody James and an aggressive and athletic defender in Ryan Buckley.
“We have a lot of people back and we definitely have potential. Several of our players played all summer with the FC Freeze,” said Coach Reed who will be assisted in his 16th season at the Lisbon helm by LCS’s Varsity Basketball Coach Sean Backus.
“We definitely have skill and speed but there are a lot of good teams like always in the NAC West. We are still a young team with only one senior. The physical nature of play is going to be a key test.”
Returning from last year‘s player rotation along with Kelley and Vine are: fellow tri-captain Reilly Alberto (Jr CMF), Jordan Carr (Jr D), Connor Hammond (Jr D/MF), Kane Jordan (So Sw), Koby Jordan (So MF), Jacob Pellerin (Jr MF), Joey Pellerin (Jr St), and Coleman Smith (Jr D).
Leading the newcomers is sophomore goalie Nick Spooner coming off a strong summer in net in the FC Freeze program. Also looking to make contributions to the tradition of a success at Lisbon are: Cody Allen (Jr St), Hunter Forsythe (So D), Hunter Gray (So D), Jack Gray (So M), Tucker Jordan (Fr D), Jake Kiah (So St), Martin Braiden (So M), Ryan Mason (So St), Logan Matthews (Jr M) and Allan Robinson (So M).
Morristown: First year coach Vanessa Bullock, who played at Edwards-Knox and Herkimer Community College and was recently appointed as a new Physical Education instructor at MCS, takes over the Rockets’ helm looking to follow up last year’s success under George Beaulieu.
A pair of first team All-NAC selections in Jacob VanArnam and Ryan Vollmer and second team picks in Devin Dulmage and goaltender Luke King lead the Rockets who return every player from last year’s team except Tristen Gilmour.
“In the short time I’ve coached them, I see that they have ability and talent. I could not ask for a better team to work with,” said Coach Bullock who played for legendary coach Don Thompson at Edwards-Knox until her senior year, had former Morristown teacher Ken Montgomery as he basketball coach and played soccer and participated in track at Herkimer CC before transferring to Ithaca College.
“Coach Thompson really taught me a lot of about soccer and Coach Amy Donner was exceptional at Herkimer. Coach Montgomery moved me up during basketball and steered me toward Ithaca,” Bullock noted.
The Rockets feature a 16 player roster and eight seniors. Seniors include: Jake VanArnam (F), Luke King (GK), Devin Dulmage (Mid-F-D), Karter VanArnam (D), Zack Kanaly (F-M-D), Tyler Delosh (D), James Richard (M), and Jacob Fox (M).
Ryan Vollmer is one of the talented juniors on the squad and will play forward. Other returners are: Brady Elliott (Jr, M-D), Colton Colby (Jr. D), Jaxien LaPiene (Soph. M-L).
Newcomers include: Gage Fox (9th), Lincoln Hall (Soph), Christian Johnson (Soph), and Owen Kuca (9th).
“The division (West) has many good teams. Lisbon and Harrisville always has good programs and this year they are going to be good again. I just want us to play to our ability,” said Bullock.
“Playing OFA early is going is going to be really tough.”
And for senior Jacob Fox, he can’t wait for his senior season to begin. “Coach Bullock is tough. We are doing a lot more running and conditioning and she keeps it different and fun as well. She keeps us working extremely hard for the full two hours we have practice and I believe it will translate to this season into a successful one,” said Fox.