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Northridge Raiders midfielder Clayton Stoltzfus, left, battles for possession of the ball against Elkhart Central Blue Blazers midfielder Bryan Ramirez, 23, during the sectional championship game between Northridge and Elkhart Central in this 2019 file photo.

MIDDLEBURY — The Northridge Raiders boys soccer team has one goal on its mind for the 2020 season: make it to state. With a roster featuring 16 seniors on it, the Raiders are as confident as ever that they’ll be able to make it past the round that has haunted them the past two seasons.

Northridge has advanced to the Class 3A regional finals in both 2018 and 2019, only to lose Chesterton and Lake Central, respectively, in the championship games. Having multiple players who’ve gone through the postseason heartbreak has Northridge coach Lawrence Baltazar confident in his team’s abilities this season.

“I feel fortunate because we have so many seniors,” Baltazar said. “They’ve been around; I don’t have to say too much to them. They’re ready to go and ready to work hard. They take it very seriously; these kids have been playing together since they were eight and nine years old.”

The start of the Raiders’ season was delayed by nine days because of an Elkhart County Health Department mandate that didn’t allow high schools to compete in extracurricular games or scrimmages through Aug. 24. In its season opener on Aug. 25, though, the No. 10 (3A) ranked Raiders made a statement, overpowering the No. 12 (1A) Bethany Christian Bruins, 8-0. Senior Carter Stoltzfus had four goals, sophomore Micah Wieland had three and senior Cam Chappell had one.

Northridge plays one of the toughest schedules in the area, so they know it’ll be a lot of work to achieve their goals in 2020.

“We play a tough schedule and will do our best to be ready for sectionals,” Baltazar said. “After two straight losses in the regional championship, we are hungry for another shot. With that said, we also understand the talented teams in our conference and sectional. In our sectional, multiple teams are capable of winning each and every year. We will continue to do what we have been doing and just leave it all on the field and live with the results.”

Another team coming off a sectional title from the area is West Noble. The Chargers defeated Wawasee, 3-1, to win the Class 2A sectional at NorthWood last year. It was the second-straight sectional title for the program and the fourth one since 2012. It was the first one under head coach Abel Zamarripa, who now enters his second season at the helm of the program.

Unfortunately, the Chargers have already experienced tragic loss this year, as senior Anthony Reyes died in a car accident on Aug. 20. He was only 17 years old. Reyes saw action in four contests for West Noble last year, scoring two goals in his limited playing time. The team has dedicated the season in Reyes’ honor.

West Noble is ranked No. 14 in the Class 2A poll. NorthWood is also ranked in the 2A poll at No. 10. The Panthers lost to the Chargers, 2-1, in the sectional opener in 2019. Both teams are in the same sectional again this year, so NorthWood knows it has its work cut out for them if they’re going to get by West Noble in 2020.

“We return a solid core of players from last season, including three of our top four scorers from last season,” NorthWood coach Brad Duerksen said. “We will look to continue from last season's success.”

Two teams also debut first-year head coaches, as Bethany Christian’s Tony Janzen and Lakeland’s Lincoln McDonald get their chance to lead varsity high school programs. The Bruins are coming off a sectional championship as well, giving the area three sectional-defending teams.


2020 BOYS SOCCER TEAM PREVIEWS

BETHANY CHRISTIAN

Head coach: Tony Janzen, 1st season

Assistant coaches: Nathan Nafziger, Brian O'Leary, Jesse Ward

Last season’s record: 12-7

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Josiah Bustamante, Dylan Horning, Anthony Moser, Colin Ward. Juniors: Evan Brown, Joseph Gonzales, Beck Willems. Sophomores: Asher Bontrager, Joey Mujica.

Other varsity candidates: Juniors: Logan Nussbaum, Conner Steele. Sophomores: Jordan Ross Richer, Avery Rusel, Justin Thomas. Freshmen: Tyson Chupp, JJ Fleming, Shemaya Magatti.

Comments: “The coaching staff has really enjoyed working with this group. We are eager to start the season and look forward to having the most balanced group of players since I started as an assistant four years ago,” coach Janzen said.

CONCORD

Head coach: Shawn McCuen, 23rd season

Assistant coaches: Steve Miller, Mark Weldy

Last season’s record: 10-5-2

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Yordy Amaya-Diaz, Enruvent Requenes Rosales, Arik Schwartz, Isaiah Singleton, Jose Valenzuela. Juniors: Alejandro Aguirre, Bryan Chavez Gonzalez, Parker Curtis, Andres Dixon, Gadiel Montiel. Sophomores: Jaime Barajas, Diego Bravo Gomez, Dominic Castillo, Derek Gomez, Austin Walter.

Other varsity candidates: Senior: Sebastian Zarco. Juniors: Jose Martinez Hernandez, Ernesto Martinez. Sophomores: Brady Anderson, Gavin Miller.

Comments: “I have been very pleased with how our young men have handled the ups and downs and all the procedures put in place to keep us safe and able to play in these unusual times. We have a lot of work to do and hope to get better with each game. I look forward to seeing the progress throughout the season. As always, the NLC and our schedule are extremely challenging and we will have to grow up quickly,” coach McCuen said.

GOSHEN

Head coach: Viratham Mounsithiraj, 17th season

Assistant Coaches: Matt Bjorkland, Rusty Maust Emery, volunteer coach Lucas Kauffman, Gerald Mejia, Josh Snyder.

Last season’s record: 10-7-1

Returning letterwinners: Richy Garcia, Marlon Garcia, Rodrigo Lazo, Fernando Quevedo, Diego Romo, Fernando Salazar, Josh Schrock, Isaac Sensenig.

Other varsity candidates: Eduardo Alvarez, Carlos Castaneda, Josh Cruz, Kovan Drenth, Leo Gonzalez, Arturo Hernandez, Bryan Landin, Edgar Mora, Alexis Moro, Alejandro Pedroza.

Comments: “We are excited about our upcoming season (we are hoping to be able to have a full season). We have a hungry group of seniors who want to have a great senior year and have some underclassmen who want to prove themselves and are competing hard. Overall, we have a very balanced team this year. And that has been good for us during pre-season as guys are competing hard to prove their worth,” coach Mounsithiraj said.

LAKELAND

Head coach: Lincoln McDonald, 1st season

Last season’s record: 5-9

Returning letterwinners: Mason Douglas, Cesar Garcia, Ricardo Luna, Jandi Luna, Jeffery Mendez, Oscar Montoya, Emanuel Sanchez, Hunter Yanke.

Other varsity players: Raul Ballines, Max Canteras, Ricardo Flores, Carlos Gayatan, Andre Guerrero, Manuel Magallanes, Eric Sanchez.

Comments: “We have some big changes to our roster due to academics. We lost some big giants for our team that we were going to rely on heavily. This season is now a season of adversity and next man up! My guys are fired up and ready to go,” coach McDonald said.

NORTHRIDGE

Head coach: Lawrence Baltazar, 6th season

Assistant Coaches: Vincent Baltazar, Steve Frizzo, Micah Miller

Last season’s record: 17-3-2; 6-0-1 in NLC. NLC Champs, Sectional Champs and Regional runner-up

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: David Amaya, Vincent Baltazar, Andrew Berger, Krystian Black, Trevor Brown, Cam Chappell, Gabe Chiquito, Jamon Christner, Drew Collins, Logan Fry, Christian Hernandez, Drew Pletcher, Jacob Spudich, Carter Stoltzfus, Clay Stoltzfus, Drew Yoder. Sophomore: Micah Wieland

Other varsity candidates: Juniors: Gonzalo Bocanegra, Andrew Janatello, Mathew Speed, Vincenzo Staltari. Sophomores: Isaiah Tallman, Noah Zmuda

NORTHWOOD

Head Coach: Brad Duerksen, 24th season

Assistant Coaches: Egbert Dijkstra, Kyle Dijkstra, Seth Douwsma, Brayton Taylor

Last season’s record: 13-3-1

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Marshall Beebe, Chandler Bontrager, Kyle Cripe, Andre De Freitas, Ryne Flickinger, Andrew Graber, Sebastian Guillen, Cam Iwema, Nick Lechlitner, Kayden Newcomer. Juniors: Kaleb Eberle, Joey Eshelman, Aiden Schrock. Sophomore: Chase Duerksen.

Other varsity candidates: Senior: Kevin Newton. Sophomores: Aiden Greenlee, Joel Guzman, Trent Iwema, Alex Escamilla, Andrew Myers, Luis Castillo. Freshman: Carlos Alvarez.

WAWASEE

Head Coach: Jordan Sharp, 7th season

Assistant Coach: Cory Herdrich

Last season’s record: 1-15-2

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Niles Hodges, Jace Mishler, Brandon Tayagua, Caleb Young.

Other varsity candidates: Seniors: Ethan Carey, Salvidor Carmona, Clayton Firestone, Victor Tayagua. Juniors: Alec Beighler, Caleb Celeveger, Harry Doss, Miguel Gomez, Ben Haines, Mason Possell, Avery Shutters, Carson Speybroeck, Sylvester Trujillo, Riley VanCleave, Alec Wortinger. Sophomores: Cade Beer, Reuben Camargo, Carson Clevenger, Gabe Garro, Isaac Hodges, Parker Lenfestey, Jayden Rodriguez, Jeffrey Sanchez, Landon Sanders, Drew Williamson. Freshmen: Hunter Fiedeke, Braxton Mickem, Xavier Washington.

Comments: “Despite our record being very poor last season, we have much to build on and are very excited to see what we can bring to the NLC this season and make a great sectional run,” coach Sharp said.

WEST NOBLE

Head coach: Abel Zamarripa, 2nd season

Assistant coaches: Ryan Barth, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Macias, Uriel Macias, Jonathan Moreno.

Last season’s record: 16-4, 7-0 NECC

Varsity roster: Seniors: Jordan Bonilla, Jose Dominguez, Alejando Marmolejo, Erik Medina, Cesar Nejera. Juniors: Brian Diaz, Diego Flores, Eric Galarza, Nestor Gutierrez, Darren Reyes, Henry Torres, Jose Torres. Coy Wolheter. Sophomores: Diego Cardona, Diego Fernandez, Josue Haro, Elio Herrera, Carlos Jasso, Alexandro Liera, Isiah Lowe, Francisco Marin, Jesus Marin, Fabian Martinez, David Mendoza, Victor Ramires, Eduardo Ramirez. Freshmen: Bradyn Barth, Alejandro Hernandez, Zachary Huff, Juan Ibarra, Andres Macias, Efren Munoz-Silva, Jaime Pizana, Victor Rodriguez, Cy Wolheter.

WESTVIEW

Head coach: Jamie Martin, 3rd season

Assistant coaches: Libbie Martin, Ehren Misner

Last season’s record: 10-8-1; 6-1 NECC play

Returning letterwinners: Seniors: Younis Algardi, Ameer Alshuga, Bryan Hernandez, Keegan Kohlheim, Cael Misner,  Abdul Saleh. Juniors: Abder Alrasheed, Spencer Conatser, Gramm Egli, Sean Nordman, Saleh Omar, Alex Yoder, Jadon Yoder. Sophomores: Brandon Eash, Bodie Martin.

Other varsity candidates: Senior: Chandler Pushman. Sophomore: Evan Litwiller. Freshmen: Carson Brown, Teague Misner, Brady Rogers.

Comments: “We lost three of four defenders and our goalkeeper to graduation. We have most of our offensive attack back, so I’m looking forward to a year where we should be quite competitive and should be able to make a run at the conference title and sectionals,” coach Martin said.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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