WOODSTOCK – Central has good reason to have high hopes for the upcoming boys soccer season.
The Falcons return most of their team from last year and will have more depth than they did a year ago. They have 18 players on this year's squad, and all of them play travel soccer in the offseason.
"I think we are going to be a balanced team," Central coach Ted Poor said. "There's a lot of skill. If they play together and get that good chemistry going, we'll have a good season."
Chemistry shouldn't be an issue since most of the team plays on the same travel soccer team in the Shenandoah County Soccer League, coached by Stonewall Jackson boys soccer coach Matt Burgwald.
"That's really beneficial, because we play basically all year-round with the same players," Central senior Trenton Hitt said. "So our chemistry is pretty on point. And we do the same formation at Central as we do on the travel team. So we're used to our positions and where we play and who plays where."
Central junior Gerson Sorto Lopez is the team's top returning goal scorer. He had 11 goals last year.
Senior Victor Burgwald had five goals last season. Victor Burgwald said that with all the returning players the team has, he feels good about their chances this season.
"We just lost three seniors, so I think we kind of know what to expect," Victor Burgwald said. "We definitely have a few new players that look pretty good on the field."
Sorto Lopez said he's liked what he's seen so far from the team on offense in practices.
"Our passes have been looking better," Sorto Lopez said. "So if we can keep that up during games that can also help us up front. And we also have a decent amount of speed, too. And that's also a key thing."
While the Falcons lost only three seniors from last year's team, one of them was their top defender Stuart Kent.
"I'm going to really have to rebuild the defense," Poor said. "Our keeper comes back, but I lost Kent, who was an excellent keeper. So I'm asking players to play out of position - they're capable of doing it. I'm asking some to come back and play defense for us. I've got some young guys that I think could step into it as the season goes on. So I'm optimistic."
Hitt is one of the players who may move back to defense, and he said he plays defense some on the travel team, so he's comfortable playing there if needed.
Senior Andrew Jett returns as Central's goalkeeper. Last year Jett had 102 saves and four shutouts.
Central starts the season on March 12 as it hosts Turner Ashby.
The Falcons, who have finished second in the Bull Run District for the last three years, came up one victory shy of a state berth last season. Poor said that going a step further is something the team would love to accomplish.
"We certainly want to make it to regions," Poor said. "Our goal, we talked about it, we want to make it finally to states. That may be a long journey, but if we would have won one more game last year, we would have done it."