By Cassandra Negley
The Blue Raiders are older, wiser and walking around with a lingering hunger as the 2018 IAC boys soccer season gets underway.
Trumansburg gave a solid showing last season with a 14-3-1 record, the IAC Small South title, a share of the Small overall title and a spot in the Section IV Class C semifinals.
Yet at points throughout the season head coach Jason Hodge and players said the play on the pitch every night wasn’t indicative of the record. The team fell short of a sectional final match with eventual state champion and rival Lansing, falling by a 2-1 score to Seton Catholic in the semifinals. Both goals were on re-starts.
“It kind of left a bad taste in all these players’ minds,” Hodge said the morning of the team’s first game Wednesday, Sept. 5. “It was tough because we didn’t really play a game that we thought was one of our best games. So I think them having that (in their minds), knowing that we need to do bigger things this year (is helpful).”
The IAC Small South champions are also coming off a year in which they share the IAC Small School title with Marathon following a 1-1 Championship game draw.
A bad taste, indeed.
The title squad returns five of its eight 2017 IAC All-Stars, led by reigning South Small MVP Logan Bonn.
The senior moved back to the sweeper position part way through and scored 10 goals. He had five goals as a sophomore midfielder.
Bonn is joined in the senior ranks by returners Noah Head, a first-team IAC selection who played a stopper role; Hudson Williamson, an IAC second-team center midfielder; and Tucker Rossi, an IAC second-team defender.
The Blue Raiders’ top offensive threat, Conor Baird, leads the 13-player junior class after a sophomore season of 21 goals and five assists. And junior goalkeeper Richard Prosser, a second-team selection, is back after a surprise showing at the position in his first year.
While the entire team spent the summer on travel teams and in the gym lifting, the jump from a squad of primarily underclassmen to upperclassmen is a big get.
“Now a majority of our core is 11th and 12th graders. That will definitely help us I believe down the road,” Hodge said “That extra year of experience will definitely help them out.
“Our younger kids are finally getting older. So hopefully we’ll have a decent season.”
Joining Baird and Prosser is Joseph Morpurgo, Kevin Emery, Ryan Ciccolini, Cristian Pia-Miller, Elijah Flood, Eli Lines, Will Pritchard, Jack Masters, Ethan Peck, Kaden Civileto and Danté Muñoz.
Eric Davis is one of four sophomores on the 21-player roster and will be a key new contributor for the Blue Raiders.
Hodge spent the preseason getting players on the same page and assessing skill. As the year goes on, the squad will again focus on putting a whole game together and ensuring the play better reflect the record.
“I think just coming together as a group and being as unselfish as we can (is important). We struggled with that a little last year,” Hodge said. “But I believe (and) I hope we’ll be able to overcome that obstacle this year and play as a group and not worry who gets the ball, but more of having success as a team.
“And with the work that these guys are putting in this preseason, I believe we’ll get over that hump.”
The Blue Raiders were fortunate last year to make it through without injuries; Hodge said they’ll hope for another clean slate. They were in full control of the IAC Small South division, their first in it, and will look to do it again with a small change.
Spencer-Van Etten/Candor (SVEC) will drop down to join Trumansburg, Newfield, and Odessa-Montour in the group. SVEC switched with Watkins Glen, now in the Large South, based on enrollment numbers.
The season kicks into a higher gear Sept. 21 when Class B runner-up Elmira Notre Dame comes to town. The sizzling date on the schedule, though, is Sept. 29 when Trumansburg’s showdown with reigning state champion Lansing comes at the Bobcats’ place. The Blue Raiders won, 2-1, during the ’17 regular season with both scores by Bonn.
T’burg, Lansing and Seton Catholic are always favorites to make it deep into the Section IV Class C tournament where they each hope the lingering hunger haunts someone else for a year.
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