Mayfield, the defending WAC North champions, are off to a strong start, while defending Foothills Council champion Broadalbin-Perth is also in the mix for the Foothills South title again this time under first-year coach Billy Eipp.
Gloversville and Fonda-Fultonville have also put in strong early season performances and will figure to be key figures in the postseason play.
The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots are under a new coach this season after the retirement of Brian Henry after 15 seasons at the helm.
Longtime assistant Billy Eipp takes over the head-coaching position for the Patriots and has a solid group of returning players including seniors Will Austin who connected for 13 goals and three assists last year, Zach Monks (four goals, five assists), Devon Holz (nine goals, five assists) and standout goalkeeper Ian Halloran who is a four-year starter in net for the Patriots. Last season Halloran allowed only eight goals and is looking to add to his 29 career shut outs.
Also returning for the Patriots are junior Jared Eipp (two goals, eight assists) and sophomore Jon Murphy (three goals, two assists).
“We have nine new players who have never played at the varsity level and we only have four returning full time starting players, so overall our depth of experience at the varsity level is not too deep. I can say that this team is young, strong, fast, competitive and smart. They have show me they are hungry to learn and are willing to work hard to try and do the right things.”
The Gloversville Dragons are off to a solid start to their season and have shown they are going to be a force in the league this season.
Raymond Strauser has put nine goals in the net for the Dragons through the first eight games, which Damian Bruce and newcomer Marwan Abbas making their presence known both as scorers and playmakers. The Gloversville defensive back line has also solidified behind the leadership of returners Brent Muhlberger and Ryan Issa.
“Numbers are once again a challenge but our optimism lies with our work ethic,” coach Jason Hillabrandt said. “We have been putting in a lot of time since the beginning of the year and if we can stay healthy and continue to focus on our strengths. We feel we can do some nice things out there this year.”
With the loss of 10 seniors from last years squad, the Johnstown Sir Bills have been competitive but are still looking the put the right combination together so far this season.
Second-year coach Tommy Horning has a group of hard-working returners including Tyler Bump, Charlie Brown, Alex VanDeusen, Zach Dunnkosky, Christian Solby, Peter VanDenburgh, tyler Benton, Spencer Kotwasinski, Andy Sitterly and Matthew Boyle to build around for a late-season run.
“Last year we had our first sectional win in a couple of years. We aim to be just as competitive as last year, while focusing on bringing our newcomers into the mold of Johnstown soccer.”
The Amsterdam Rams are looking for their first win of the season and replacing starting goalkeeper Elias Sanchez who transferred and starting centerback Tim Kline who graduated.
Third-year coach Chris Modelowski is looking to veterans Ever Arevalo and Kevin Vargas to provide offensive pressure and defenders Sam Phetteplace, Jeremy Espinoza and Antonio Reyes to keep the Rams in matches as they grow through the season.
The Fort Plain Hilltoppers return to varsity competition this season after spending a rebuilding year at the junior varsity level.
“Last year was a rebuilding year,” coach Matt Heiser said. “I hope to have a big impact on the league and reclaim a spot amongst the top teams.”
Leading scorer from last year’s squad, Jaxson Yacowenia has tallied nine goals so far this season, while assist leader Jacob Hisert has been the main playmaker for the Hilltoppers.
Defending league champion and Section II Class C finalist Mayfield has bolted out to a 6-0 start to the season as they look to repeat as the league title holders.
The Panthers have big shoes to fill after graduation of league MVP Brendan Gifford (31 goals) along with Section II and WAC goalkeeper of the year Anthony Brandow and WAC all-stars Brian Graf, Jared Albertin, Carter Ivancic, Harrison Harper and Taylor Madeiros.
“Mayfield is looking to have a competitive season based on the senior leadership and experience of players from last year’s team,” Mayfield coach Jon Caraco said. “The boys worked very hard in the off season and this preseason in an effort to maintain the level of play we had last year. Although the players who graduated will be missed and brought a lot to the team, the current group of players are eager to have a successful season.”
Returning to the pitch for the Panthers are seniors Drew Snyder, Tommy Gates, Alex ringer and John Fancher along with juniors Garrett Delaney, Dan Leach and Anthony Yuret.
The Fonda-Fultonville Braves have turned some heads in the early season with a solid group of returning players including goalkeeper Mitch Araya, Josh Coyne, Evan Wieczenski, Jagger Tiffault, Josh Fancher, Joe Wilder, Brett Kneeskern, Jeremiah Tooley, Ryan Lewis, Kyle Nare, Liam Viscosi and Justin Newcomer.
“We have a solid group of returners and newer players seem to be picking things up quickly,” coach Matt Bloom said. “The key right now is improvement.”
The Braves are off to a 3-1-0 start in the WAC and 3-2-0 overall.
The Northville Falcons lost three WAC first-team all-stars to graduation including WAC co-MVP Danny Reidell (13 goals, four assists), Dan Ryan (nine goals, eight assists, and Skyler Edwards (three goals).
However, the Falcons returning senior goalkeeper Andy Klingbeil along with Lucas Jetty (three goals four assists), Nate Reidell (two goals), Chris Arnold (two goals) and defender Michael Kalkbrenner and Eric Knowlton-Page.
“The Falcon squad will be young overall this season,” Northville coach Steve Clapper said. “The squad is working well, and when the young talent starts to get comfortable and fit in with the returning players, the team will start to take shape. Northville has always been a team that works hard and never gives up, so although they might take some early-season hits, don’t count them out come the end of the season.”
The Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville Wolves are also off to a good start as they look to get back to the Section II Class D final four.
“With the loss of two key defensive all-stars in Mike Smith and A.J. Hayes, we are looking for some young players to fill crucial roles in the backfield,” Darin Lynch said. “Team play will be critical to success.”
Lynch stepped aside earlier this season and Mark Snell will guide the Wolfpack this season.
Returning to the pitch this year for OESJ are WAC second team all-star Zack Mosher, Trent Barker, Seth Myers, Coby Cover, Jack Brundage, Bob Snell, Nick Grant, Mason Snell and Braden Frederick.
The Canajoharie Cougars will be looking to return to sectional play after missing out last season.
Leading the Cougars are WAC first-team all-star Andrew Towse and second team all-star Louie Hand along with third year varsity goalkeeper Mack Frank and senior midfielder Dale Plant.
Galway was hit hard by graduation after going 14-4-1 overall last year. The Golden Eagles lost Quinn Smith (15 goals, 12 assists), as well as Shawn Kerry (defender), Trevor Sowle (defender) and Shane Brownell (keeper).
Galway returns Jake Restivo (14 goals, 11 assists, Erik Matthews (10 goals 7 assists), Justin Matthews and Josh Scheeren.
“The team is very young, but we hope to be very competitive,” Galway coach Neal Evans said. “We must shore up a defense that was hit with graduations.
Looking to fill the void will be several underclasssmen, including Charlie Clarke, Rowan Smith, Brandan Shader and Henry Flint.
Northern Soccer League
A large turnout of players for Wells has sixth-year coach Don Beach looking for the Indians to return to postseason play after a couple years absence.
“We have good numbers for the first time in a couple years,” Beach said. “This will allow us to play at a quicker tempo.”
Returning to the pitch for the Indians are Sabastian Beach, Tyler Bolebruch, Ryan Bolebruch, Jordan Biederman, Coby Stuart, Dakota Russell, Tre Zimmerman, Matt Speece and Shane Kennedy.
Center State Conference
Don Dodson takes over as head coach for the Dolgeville Blue Devils as they return nine players from last years squad that finished with a 2-14 overall record.
Veterans Nick Coffin, Chandler Riddell and Jeremiah Deninno lead a Blue Devils roster that includes nine freshmen and an eighth-grader.
“With a set roster including nine returning players and 10 newcomers, we have a large team with a lot of soccer experience and heart,” Dodson said. “We are looking to improve on last years season record and continuing to grow our soccer program.”