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Derry boys soccer seniors hope to make progress

September 1, 2018
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Derry's Christian Bartlebaugh (right) and Alex Murphy compete against one another during a scrimmage practice for boys' soccer on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 at Derry Area High School.

This season marks the final chance for Derry’s 12 seniors to challenge for a postseason berth.

The Trojans haven’t come close in recent years, but with so much experience back, they hope to improve on last season’s 3-15 mark and be a factor in the WPIAL Section 2-AA race.

“It’s going to be extremely competitive in the section. Our record last year doesn’t show it, but there were a lot of close games that were maybe lost in the second half in the last 10 minutes. We gave up some goals late in games,” Derry coach Jayson Banner said. “We should be extremely competitive. I think it falls on their attitude more than anything. They can’t give up if they let a goal in. They have to keep their heads up and play how they know how to play. If they do that, it should be a good season. I am really excited about it.”

Banner took over as head coach after serving as an assistant last year. He continued coaching the squad throughout the offseason.

“It’s a nice little advantage having already coached them. I coached with them all winter long in indoor season, and I’ve gotten to know the guys a lot through the past year,” he said. “The core of the team is seniors. I think five or six of them play club soccer over the summer. These guys have been playing together for a long time and playing all year round. They are always on the top of their game. That’s a good thing to have in the core of a team.

“The other guys really improved over the winter, too. Having them play indoor in the winter was huge. Overall, I think everybody has improved. Definitely, some of the younger players, as well. Some guys coming in are doing a lot better than what I saw from them last season. It’s a good start.”

The seniors will dominate the lineup. Lucas Snyder, Christian Bartlebaugh and Anthony Mastorocco could see time at forward or in an attacking role. Ed Darbous and Alexander Murphy are at midfield, while Gavin Johnston, Alex Simon, Nicholas Aukerman and David Jasper contribute on defense.

Bradley Jones could see time anywhere on the field, while Robert Boyer starts in goal and Dylan Jones could see time between the pipes as a backup. Boyer brings experience back to help direct the defense.

“He’s the hardest worker on the team. He lays it on the line for them every game, which is great to have,” Banner said. “He started a lot of games last year, and he has a couple years of experience starting in goal. He’s definitely taken on the full-time starting role this year.”

Juniors Damian Morales and Tony Ditonto could see time at midfield or on the attack, along with sophomores Antonio Kantor and Connor Yakoweloff and freshman Connor Johnston.

“I think the experience that core group has is a strength,” Banner said. “Most of these seniors have been playing all four years at Derry, plus club soccer. That instinct of knowing where teammates should be is definitely an advantage.”

The Trojans hope a renewed focus will pay off with better chemistry.

“We’re really trying to focus on their discipline, teamwork and camaraderie. The team in the past has had issues with that,” Banner said. “I think that’s their biggest hurdle to get over - just working as a team. I think we made progress last year. This year, so far, we’ve been on the right track. We still have a lot of work to do. For a lot of them, it’s their last chance. They really need to work together and have fun. Once they do that and start having fun, I think they’ll find a lot of success. It’s definitely possible.”

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