The conditions at Bond Fest were not optimal. Torrential rain poured from the sky down onto the five fields in Trumansburg, where 17 boys high school soccer teams were gathered for a day of scrimmages. Schools attending Bond Fest ranged all the way from Waverly to Mynderse Academy in Seneca Falls, giving teams a look at players they typically would not cross paths with in the regular season. Weather was not one of the scheduled opponents for these teams, but it played a factor throughout the morning, causing a slick field and an even slicker ball.
Practicing in these conditions was met with mixed opinions from coaches. Some were glad that they were getting time under precipitation that will certainly play a factor as the season progresses. Others were concerned with potential injuries and did not want to risk losing any players before the season began.
Among the 17 teams on the fields that day were three from Tompkins County: the Lansing Bobcats, Trumansburg Blue Raiders and Newfield Trojans.
Lansing comes into the season with plenty of momentum, having won the New York State Class C championship the past two seasons. Trumansburg also had a strong year in 2018, going 16-2-1 but falling to Lansing in the Section IV championship game. Newfield is on the opposite end of the spectrum, going 8-12 and missing the Section IV tournament. We spoke to the coaches of these three teams at Bond Fest to get a feel for their 2019 expectations.
Historically, Lansing boys soccer has been an incredibly successful program. You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find its last losing season. The Bobcats have been dominant in Section IV play, winning the championship six times in the past eight years.
Believe it or not, they have been even better since Benji Parkes began his stint as head coach in 2016. Since then, Lansing has gone 59-7 and, as previously mentioned, won the state championship in each of the past two years. Maintaining that level of play is a challenge, but Parkes is confident in his team.
“It’s a new year, a new team, and obviously new roles,” Parkes said. “We’re just going to go out and try to continue the success we’ve had in previous years, just going to try and keep it up.”
The state titles have not changed Parkes’ attitude as he knows there are many steps that have to be taken before being in position to lift another trophy.
“We’re going to go out and take it game by game. That’s what we tell our guys from the get-go,” Parkes said. “Day-by-day, game-by-game, and the success will come.”
The Bobcats begin their quest for a three-peat on Thursday, Sept. 5, on the road against the Spencer-Van Etten/Candor Eagles.
Trumansburg Blue Raiders
Over the past three seasons, Jason Hodge has led Trumansburg boys soccer to a 45-9-2 record, winning a league championship in 2017. The elite Lansing squad will be a tough hurdle to overcome, as they are both Class C teams, but Hodge is up for the challenge
“We made it to the sectional finals last year, and we’re hoping to get back there,” Hodge said. “We’ll see what the outcome is, but I’m assuming it will be us and Lansing again. That’s the hope.”
Senior leadership will be a key to the Blue Raiders’ season, as half the team will be entering their final season. Given the familiarity the players have with each other, there should be a quick return to mid-season form.
“We have an interesting dynamic on the team this season. We have 13 seniors and 13 underclassmen,” Hodge said. “We’re trying to get everyone some time on the field, but being successful is the biggest part. I like the way we look. We’re playing as a group, so that’s a big plus.”
Trumansburg will look to start the season on the right foot on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 4:30 p.m., when it hosts the Southern Cayuga Chiefs.
Newfield boys soccer is three years removed from a great 2016 season in which it went 18-8-2. That momentum wasn’t maintained, as the Trojans have a combined 15-20-1 record in the last two seasons.
Now with a generally young team at his disposal, head coach Matt Wigsten is looking to build toward the future, starting with scrimmages against stiff competition at Bond Fest.
“Overall, I’m happy. We’re young, so we knew it was going to be a tough go. We played three tough teams really,” Wigsten said. “The speed of play was a little more than they expected, so it was a good learning experience for them.”
Heading into the season, the goal for Newfield is to simply get experience at this level and to build upon that for seasons to come.
“I just want to be able to keep up with some of the tougher teams in the league, pick up the speed of play. Their ball skills have to improve a little bit,” Wigsten said. “But I look forward to competing. I think the competition’s going to be good throughout the season.”
Newfield’s first game was on Tuesday, Sept. 3, against Moravia at home, two days earlier than the aforementioned squads. The next match is against Marathon on Sept. 10, time to be determined.
Tompkins County will be well-represented in Class C for boys soccer, with arguably the two best teams in the class residing here in Trumansburg and Lansing. Newfield is a Class D team and perhaps will be able to match the success of the Blue Raiders and Bobcats when its young roster develops more.The teams are ready for anything when the typical central New York weather rolls around in the fall.
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