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Friday, August 12, 2022

Soccer: The Ones to Watch For

With the fall sports season quickly approaching, we’ve already taken a look at some football and girls soccer players to watch and now it’s time to head to the boys’ soccer side.

Keshequa was the only local sectional winner last season but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of talent spread around. Kendall fell to the Indians in the Class C2 title game, while both Wheatland-Chili and Avon lost in their respective sectional semifinals. Meanwhile, the Wildcats picked up the Genesee Region League title in a tight race with Kendall and Attica. 

This season will see a lot of change, possibly more than normal, as plenty of stellar athletes were lost to graduation. However, there is still an abundance of talent returning to the pitch in 2022.

Here is a look at some players to watch in the upcoming boys soccer season:

(Players are listed as just a sampling of the talent that can be seen this fall.)

OWEN HALPIN, Batavia — Junior, midfielder — The Blue Devils had one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2021 as they finished at 9-6-2 and earned the No. 4 seed in the Class B1 tournament. Halpin will be the team’s leading returning scorer this fall after he finished with seven goals and eight assists last season. Batavia will have plenty of talent to replace, so Halpin will be key in continuing the program’s upward trend.

LEE HARTKE, Avon — Senior, midfielder — One of the top scorers in the Livingston Conference last season, Hartke finished with 20 goals to go with a pair of assists as a junior. The Braves lost just two seniors from a squad that advanced to the Class C1 semifinals and return this fall with a plethora of athleticism that should have them primed for another run.

COLIN MARTIN, Byron-Bergen/Elba — Junior, Midfielder — As a first-time GR all-star as a sophomore, Martin had a solid sophomore campaign. Martin led the team with 11 goals and 11 assists. Byron-Bergen was 4-6 in a tough league, while the Bees were 8-10 overall. However, B-B/E has virtually all of its scoring returning as well as all of its goalkeepers this fall.

MAVERIC MCKENZIE, Le Roy — Senior, midfielder — The spark for the Oatkan Knights offense last fall, McKenzie led the team with 16 goals, while he was second with five assists. Le Roy, though, might be in rebuilding mode after it lost 12 talented seniors to graduation, which amounts to 24 of its goals and 24 assists from last season. Le Roy was a solid 9-8 last fall, including 5-7 in a difficult LCAA.

TOBEY PASSER, Kendall — Senior, Defender — Defensive specialist earned his first Genesee Region League all-star selection last fall. Passer finished the season with one assist, but his strength was that he aided a defense that had five shutouts on the year. Kendall finished at 10-8-1 overall and was second in the GR with a 7-2-1 mark, just behind W-C; the Eagles came from the No. 6 seed to advance to the Class C2 title game.

NATHAN THAYER, Keshequa — Senior, midfielder — The second of two important players returning from the reigning Class C2 championship team, Thayer was second on the team with 17 goals last season, while he was third on the team with 11 assists. Along with the aforementioned Hinrich, Thayer will play a big pat for a roster that lost 12 seniors from a 18-2-1 team - including Reese Powers (26G, 34A) and Avery Strobel (11G, 12A).

KYAN TIEDE, Pavilion/York — Junior, midfielder – Quietly was one of the top players in the LCAA last fall when he led the team with 18 goals to go along with six assists. Pavilion/York had a solid 2021 as they finished 11-7 overall and 8-4 in the tough LCAA. However, P/Y lost eight seniors to graduation, including second leading scorer Jackson Feltham (17G, 6A), so Tiede will be looked upon to step his game up to the next level this season.

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