HUNTERTOWN — “We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s just one more thing we want.”
Last year, Trevor Horton and his now fellow seniors on the Carroll boys soccer team got a taste of something no one else in the program had for nearly a decade — a shot at the semi-state title. After falling to eventual state champion Chesterton by penalty kick shootout following a 0-0 standoff in last year’s championship game, the Chargers are ready to prove they can make a run again — and take it even further.
“We’re definitely hungry for it,” senior Peyton Fosnough said. “After we did that last year when nobody expected it, now we’re just really determined to win state, because that’s the only way up from here.”
Last year saw the Chargers make one of their biggest improvements season to season, as they bounced back from a 6-8-6 performance in 2017 to post a 17-3-2 record in 2018. Though the team graduated eight seniors in 2018 — including two All-State athletes in Patryk Olczyk and Collin Jester — last year’s core remains intact for another outing.
“Going into last year, we were coming off the first losing season since before any of these guys were even born,” Head Coach Rollie Clements said. “The year before was just frustrating, but the scary part was if you looked at the two teams from the last two years, the team last year wasn’t that much better than the team before that, but the year before we just couldn’t score goals.”
That scoring drought ended last season after some minor field adjustments — namely moving Fosnough into the front line. After hanging back in the midfield the year before, Fosnough’s move to forward put him in position to score 16 goals and pick up 10 assists to lead Carroll’s scoring. That coupled with Sam Michaels’ 10 assists helped propel the Chargers to their first regional title since 2011.
“The main thing that sets us apart is we’ve known each other for so long and we’ve been playing club and high school for so many years,” Michaels, a 2018 All-State honorable mention, said of the chemistry between this year’s upperclassmen. “That just gives us that extra confidence boost.”
In total, the Chargers produced 52 goals and 37 assists in 2018, but that wasn’t the only key to success. The team also recorded shutouts in half its 22 games last season. Though the bulk of last year’s defense moved on to college this year, Horton will look to anchor another strong group of experienced defenders.
“We’ve got a solid group coming back this year, so we’re pretty confident that they’ll be all right,” Clements said. “We’ve got a nice line of guys down the middle and some other guys that have some experience.”
The major change to this year’s squad will be in goal, as the team graduated keeper Brohde Eckert, who started the majority of last year’s games before suffering an injury in the postseason. Junior Nathan Fey held down Carroll’s goal for the remainder of the tournament last season, but moved out of state this year. Barring any injuries, though, the team should be in good hands under three-year varsity player Logan Gonzalez and newcomer Parker Augenstein.
Gonzalez will look to make an impact after spending the majority of last season on the bench due to an injury.
“If we can keep him healthy, he’s one of the top goalkeepers in the state,” Clements said. “He’s really special.”
Other key returners for the Chargers this year include seniors Elvis Nwosu, Chris Gerken, Michael Frank, Nick Harding, Camryn Ryan, Tristan Young and John Anderson; and juniors Connor Kreilach, Eric Hull and Rylan Lochmueller.
Newcomers to keep an eye on include forwards Chase Hartzog and Evan Jester, midfielders Evan Hess and Isaac Timmer, and defensemen Daniel LaRue and Joshua Sorg.
In total, the Chargers return 14 lettermen this season.
The team will open play at Warsaw this Saturday.
“By the time we play good teams in the postseason, we’ve either already played them or played teams just as good as them, so (our tough schedule) helps a lot with preparation,” Fosnough said.