North Cross Field Hockey and Soccer Previews

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Soccer: when the North Cross boys soccer team takes to the pitch this fall, they will be returning an experienced core of players, including 10 seniors and three juniors from last year’s fifth place team in the VIC.

Returning for the Raiders are seniors Devon Goodrich (Defender,), Yezid Gracia (Goal Keeper), Ryan Hodges (Midfielder), Tyler Lystash (Def), Visnu Maharaj (Def), Jonathan Mitchell (Def), David Quinn (Def), Jonathan Turner (Mid), Chris Waldrop (For) and Daniel Wendell (Mid), juniors Johnny Curran (For), Alex Strain (For) and Jordan Titzmann (Def), sophomores Wes Bonelli (Mid), Jayson Lamanca (For) and Tyler Quinn (For), along with freshman Christopher Pollock (For).

With eight returning starters, three on offense and five on defense, North Cross is looking to improve on last year’s 9-8-1 mark.

“The seniors are hungry and have the team together and focused,” said head coach James Brown. “This is exactly what you expect from your leaders heading into the season. This year’s team [has] a lot of experience with 10 seniors and three juniors. This is valuable when conference and state tournament time roll around.”

“While we have made the state tournament the past two seasons our lack of size and experience ultimately ended our seasons,” added Brown. “Now I feel we are the team with the experience returning eight starters and a number of players who earned a lot of time in 2009.”

When asked about who he thought would make an impact on this year’s team, the coach gave five players names: “Gracia [two-time all-state goalie], Maharaj [first team all-state defender in 2009], Strain [versatile player with outstanding speed], Curran [a scoring midfielder] and Pollock [a regional player for the Virginia Olympic Development Program] … a center midfielder who helps makes us go.”

Brown pointed to the Oct. 1 meeting against Eastern Mennonite School, which will be a home contest, as perhaps the top game of the season.

As for the Raiders’ strengths and weaknesses in 2010, Brown replied, “Our strengths are an outstanding defense with an outstanding goalie behind them. Our weakness will be replacing 20 goals from outgoing players on last year’s team.

While I think the returning players will be able to fill the void, you never know until they are placed in game situations.”

Field Hockey: with nine returning players, the North Cross field hockey team is feeling good about this year’s season in the Blue Ridge Conference.  “I am very optimistic for the upcoming season,” said head coach Emily Phillips, who saw her team finish 6-8 and second in the BRC last season.

Returning for the Raiders this season are seniors Hannah Carter, Catherine Jessee, Maggie Perrin-Key and Elizabeth Stoeckle, junior Miranda Clarke, sophomores Meagan Mulhauser, Alex Roe and Laura Warren and freshman Caitlin McDonnell.

Newcomers to the varsity program are seven freshmen, including Carrie Bailey, Nicole Chaney, Morgan Clark, Anna Cooper, Kirby Evett, Paxton Helmer and Madison Macher. “We have a very young team this year, but with that comes a lot of athleticism,” said Phillips. “The returning players are strong and hardworking.”

North Cross opens its 2010 season on Tuesday, Aug. 31, when they travel to Charlottesville High School for a 5:45 p.m. match.

By David Grimes
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