D will be key for young Eagles team

ARLINGTON - With the graduation of leading scorers Freddie Pickering and John Esposito, the Arlington Memorial High School boys soccer team has a tough task in store to find some offense.

Of course, with the experience, size and speed in the defensive half of the field, scoring only one or two might be the winning combination for the Eagles.

Pickering and Esposito combined for 22 of the team's 32 goals in 2012.

"Freddie was our main scorer, he generated probably 70 percent of the scoring last year," said Arlington assistant coach Travis Hess. "Todd [Wilkins, the head coach], said there's no positions filled, so we'll see how it runs. If the younger guys want it, the spots are there."

The Eagles have four seniors - DJ Jennings, Payton Agresta, Peter Macksey and Noah Arian. Macksey will likely patrol the center of the field, while Jennings will be in net.

"DJ [will be] in goal, [that's] the one spot that's set," Hess said. "He's been in goal for the past three years, and when you have a guy 6-foot-5 with the wingspan of a 7-footer that takes up most of the goal, you put him back there."

Out of 26 players that came out for the team, nearly two-thirds are back from a year ago.

"We're young on the freshman, sophomore end of it," said Hess, an assistant for the Eagles for the past seven years. "Konnor [Andrews] played up front some, but the majority of our scoring is gone. It's a young squad and anything's possible."

Along with Macksey, another strong candidate to be a main cog in the back is sophomore Nathan Mattison.

"He started every game last year," Hess said. "He stepped it up last year, he might move to [become] the spine of the team."

Arlington finished the season 7-7 a year ago, upsetting Chelsea as a No. 10 seed in Division IV before falling to Twin Valley.

There's been a change in the Marble Valley League as well, as other teams have moved up in division, so the schedule looks different than usual. Arlington will face division opponents including West Rutland and Black River, but also play up against Fair Haven and Otter Valley, both Division II teams. They'll also face at least two Division I opponents in the John James tournament.

"We have a lot of different opponents," Hess said. "Poultney and Mount St. Joseph folded. You get better playing the bigger schools. There are benefits to play a tougher schedule." Cross-country


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