Loaded Eagles look to make another championship run
ARLINGTON — The Arlington boys soccer team got a taste of state championship glory last year and it wants more of that feeling in 2019.
After losing just three seniors and an exchange student from the 2018 squad, the Eagles are once again expected to be among the division's best this year.
"I'm always an honest coach with my guys. You always have a goal to win a state title, but I'm also realistic," said Arlington coach Todd Wilkins. "Last year, I said we're going all the way and we did it. This year, we're going to be in the mix. We're going to be one of those contenders."
On the attack, the Eagles lose Wil Stewart to graduation, but return leading goal scorer Lewis Whalen, who put home the winner overtime during the Division IV state championship game last fall.
He'll be joined on the front line by Dominic Whalen, who moves up from a midfield role last year, where he scored six goals.
Wilkins was impressed with the communication they showed with the midfield during Arlington's scrimmage last week.
Senior Matthew Ritchie will control the midfield for Arlington and was one of the the Eagles best scorers last fall with eight tallies.
Sophomore Gabe Enzensperger scored multiple goals last year and should be a threat to score as well.
Senior Kolby Wilkins will lead the Arlington defense that saw Jack Lane graduate from last year's squad.
Most of the time in 2018, Lane would be covering the opponents' top offensive option, but with his graduation, the Eagles needed someone to fill that role.
Junior Taylor Therriault will step up and take on that stopper role for Arlington this fall.
"Taylor is such a great defender. He'll mark the team's best player in the stopper position, a lot like Jack did with [West Rutland's] Eric Maxham in the state championship game," Todd Wilkins said.
Freshman Brayden Wilkins figures to play a major role on the back line as well.
Junior Bryce Harrington takes over in goal this fall, following the departure of exchange student Linus Bialojan, who had eight clean sheets last season.
The Eagles have had a goalkeeping coach working with Harrington recently and it's seemed to pay major dividends for the keeper.
Arlington will see plenty of competition for its spot atop the D-IV throne.
Twin Valley makes the move down from Division III, following a 16-1 season in 2018. Rivendell and West Rutland were both powerhouses last fall and should be strong once again in 2019.
"We're going to have a lot of close games, just like we did last year," Todd Wilkins said. "It should be a tough battle between all of the top teams."
Arlington is tested right off the bat playing West Rutland in its first game next Wednesday on the road.
The Eagles will once again take part in the John James Tournament, hosted by Mount Anthony, where they'll get the chance to compete against Division I competition.
Arlington will host the annual John Werner Tournament starting on September 23, where it will kick off tournament play taking on Springfield.
Roster: Kolby Wilkins, Matthew Ritchie, Lewis Whalen, Dominic Whalen, Bryce Harrington, Alberto Lopez, Cameron Rhodes, Taylor Therriault, Gabe Enzensperger, Xander Hawley, Jacob Morse, Tyler Seeley, Owen Downing, Evan Richmond, Brayden Wilkins, Joe McCray, Cooper Jennings, Hunter McDermott, Austin Carrier, George Barnes, Nicholas Palfalvi, Gabe Luce, Josh Rogers, Ronan Weurslin.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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