The Charleston Trojan soccer team suffered its second straight losing record last season for the first time since the 1980s.

Second-year head coach and former Trojan standout Zach Stranz guided the team to a 6-14 campaign that featured a 4-8 record in the Apollo Conference. No senior recorded an offensive statistic last season, which means underclassmen received a great deal of experience/

One of those players includes returning All-Apollo selection Marshall Smith, who recorded four goals last season. 

“I think we have lots of talent right now so keeping our team on the same page will bring us a winning season this year,” said Smith. “Working as a team and not just individual players was a big issue last year that we have worked on a lot over the summer.  Overall, we just need to play our games together.”

The team returns their two top-scoring players from last season in senior Kyle Ross and junior Emilio Pucheta. Both players scored 10 goals with Pucheta leading the team with eight assists. 

Pucheta has started on varsity since he his freshman season. Along with Pucheta, Smith said that three players look significantly improved from last season. 

“Right now, I’ve been seeing huge improvements all around in both our offensive and defensive players,” said Smith. However, Brandon Jones, Kyle Ross, and Grant Kattenbraucher are the three players that have improved the most over the break.  Brandon has massively improved his footwork and Kyle is now using his speed for creative runs. As for Grant, he has gotten much better at keeping the defense In check as a center back. As a team, we have improved very much.

Marshall Smith was an All-Apollo selection last season.

Smith said a lot of that has been the team working out during the summer. 

“We have been doing weight training and small scrimmages that have been really helpful to me and our new underclassmen,” said Smith. “We do them about three to four days a week – and other training every day is available, if we need to at least get our foot on the ball. I personally have been going on runs around my neighborhood as my endurance was a problem last season.”

The Trojans have combined for 12 wins the past two seasons. Getting a winning season would likely require the team to finish around that win total for one season. Losing is never a lot of fun, as Smith attests. But he believes the team could have both winning and fun this year. 

“First off, I want to have a winning season,” Smith said. “But, more importantly, I want our season to be fun as last year was really disheartening, it’s as simple as that. Like I said earlier we have lots of talent so I think we have a very good chance to have a winning season. I would also like to finally win against Mattoon since I have never beaten them while I’ve been at the high school. I also think we could have a good chance of having teammates making it to all-state this year.”