By Kyle Daubs
Normally, Ryan Ghere would be getting ready to open his girls soccer season.
Even after 23 years of coaching, there’s a first time for anything, right?
The Mattoon Green Wave will begin their spring boys soccer season tonight at Olney. Due to the pandemic, the soccer season has forced the traditional fall season to play through March and April. Ghere says these boys don’t care what season it is as long as they get to take the soccer field.
“Our kids have been really resilient throughout the pandemic,” said Ghere. “A large number ran cross country in the fall so that was a nice change for them. The kids have met on their own and played a lot during the break. They are ready to play.”
The team lost several top players from last year’s 21-2-3 squad who are going to be hard to replace, such as first-team All-Apollo and All-State midfielder Shane Ghere, who finished his career as the all-time leader in assists, as well as first-team selection Mason Wright and second-team selection Jakob Weder.
But the team still has plenty of experience. Senior forward Gavin Gonzalez, a second team All-Apollo selection, headlines a senior class of seven. MHS has 13 upperclassmen overall.
“The boys have put in a lot of work over the last 18 months,” said Ghere. “Our forwards are all seniors and bring back a lot of experience. We have seven seniors and six juniors who understand what is expected in our program. They have shown great leadership in the first few weeks.
Junior midfielders Quincy Hamilton and Trent Hettinger had an outstanding cross country season, including Hettinger finishing All-Apollo. Both will look to contribute in the midfield.
Defensively, cross country captain Mac Beadles is out and listed as a potential fit on defense. Junior Jared Ruiz and senior Drew Coffey were starters last season, while sophomore Jason Skocy is slated to start on varsity.
“We return Ruiz and Coffey who started on defense last year and Skocy in goal,” said Ghere. “We will need to replace most of our midfield from last year, but I think our junior group will fill that role nicely.”
Mattoon finished third in the Apollo last season behind conference champion Mahomet-Seymour and Mount Zion. With no postseason schedule, Ghere is hopeful that this team can bring the Apollo back to Mattoon.
“Our main goal for the season is to compete for a conference championship,” said Ghere. “With no tournaments or post season, that will be our major focus. We also just want to be competitive every night. We are scheduled to play 19 games in 6 weeks, so we will need a lot of contribution from our bench.”
Forwards: Tyler Warner (SR), Gavin Gonzalez (SR), Chris Winograd (SR)
Midfielders: Andrew Brinkshroeder (JR), Quincy Hamilton (JR), Trent Hettinger (JR), Kaden Bowersock (SR), Jackson Whalin (JR)
Defenders: Jared Ruiz (JR), Kaden Fultz (SR), Mac Beadles (SR), Drew Coffey (SR), Mick Porter (JR), Quinton Wright (SO)
Goalkeeper: Jason Skocy (SO)