Owls hoping to defend NCMC title

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Senior Jonatan Sandoval will start the season in the crease for the Owls. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

The Marshall boys' soccer team had an up and down season a year ago.

The high was a 1-0 home win over Moberly in the regular season finale that gave the Owls a share of their third NCMC championship. The low came the following week when they lost a controversial 3-1 decision to host Hannibal in the Class 2, District 8 Tournament final.

Marshall received another blow during the off-season with the loss of all-state forward Isai Trujillo, who tied Chris McCoy and Jon Najera for the school's single-season scoring record with 37 goals, and an injury to junior goalkeeper Levi Jacobs following a campaign in which he posted 10 shutouts.

Jacobs should be back at some point this fall, and five other starters return. With 12 lettermen on the squad, the Owls are not lacking for experience.

"They already know what's expected of them and can pass it on to the younger guys," noted MHS head coach Justin Van Winkle, beginning his third year at the helm. "We've got 40 kids and so far they're all buying into it and pushing each other."

Van Winkle can already see the Owls "beginning to jell as a team," but there's plenty of work left to do. One is rebuilding a defense which lost two stalwarts in Chris Medrano and Luis Reyes.

"My main thing is getting the defense figured out and pushing up as a team," Van Winkle said. "Last year I feel we were getting attacked on a lot. We want to make the field smaller and keep the ball on the other team's side more."

Clearing the ball will be up to a back line led by all-conference junior Jacob Bosley. Junior Kevin Rivera is back on the outside, with sophomore transfer Josue Bonilla providing speed on the other side. Joining Bosley in the middle full time will be senior Cody Dixon.

"We're pretty experienced back there," Van Winkle said. "Jacob and Kevin play strong getting the ball to the forwards."

Until Jacobs returns, the net will be in the hands of senior Jonatan Sandoval, who averaged 1.75 points per game during his four varsity appearances last year.

"Conditioning, being able to play 80 minutes, has been a priority" in practice, according to Van Winkle, and the poster boy for that is speedy sophomore center-midfielder Julio Tinoco -- who the coach said is "a little bigger and in shape."

Tinoco will be the pivot man for the three-man midfield, with senior Jorge Tobar on the outside. Juniors Allen Castrellon and Francisco Rivera will switch between the wing and forward.

Leading the attack up front will be sophomore Diego Umana and senior Robert Hernandez, who Van Winkle describes as "finishers." Umana is the leading scorer back from last year's club, with five goals.

"We've got to get some good scorers," Van Winkle admitted -- especially with the absence of Trujillo, who accounted for more than half of the team's goals last season. Overall, the Owls' depth may be a concern.

"Our starting 11 will be strong," Van Winkle asserted. "After that, there are 10 or 11 players who haven't made the varsity squad yet."

Marshall will be in Class 3 under the new MSHSAA four-classification format, joining Grain Valley, Smith-Cotton and Warrensburg in District 13. The Owls have adjusted by strengthening the schedule, starting on opening weekend with three matches in the Smith-Cotton Tournament.

"Each game is an experience and we want to get better," Van Winkle said. The tougher competition "hopefully will get the boys motivated and push them to the end."

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: