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Fall Sports Preview: Somerset soccer players asked to learn quickly

Dominic Abbott (left) and Josh Brown battle for control of the ball during a drill in a Somerset soccer practice last week. 1 / 2
Elliot Olin (with ball) works on ball handling skills as Aaron Shartin-Folkert and Logan Eder await their turn during a Somerset soccer practice last week. 2 / 2

While the Somerset boys soccer team will have a few veteran players holding down major strategic positions, there will be a great deal of learning on the fly as the young Spartan team tries to get up to the varsity pace this season.

After graduating 11 seniors and having just three seniors on this season’s roster, experience is something the Somerset squad needs.

If you’re only going to have one returning all-conference player, having him as your goalkeeper is a very good thing. That’s where Somerset starts to build its 2017 season, around returning junior goalie Brennan Sheridan. Sheridan is quick and instinctive and Spartan coach Bill Roll said he’s better than last season.

“Nobody is going to outwork him,” Roll guaranteed.

The plan of building out from the goal starts with Sheridan and puts junior AJ Beasley at the sweeper position in front of Sheridan.

“Athletically, he’s best in almost every test we did,” Roll said of Beasley.

Beasley is in his second year of soccer, but he’s made so much progress that he’ll be one of the team’s captains this season.

Senior Nathan Dirkes was moved from forward to defense to further strengthen the Spartans’ back wall. It’s a move that’s paying immediate dividends.

“He’s really impressed us. He’s embraced the move,” Roll said.

Another senior working in the defense is Logan Eder, who will start the season as the team’s stopper. Junior Eli DeJongh will also see time here. Roll said he likes the physical presence they both bring to the position.

Two veterans returning are midfield starters in senior Elliott Olin and junior Erik Osorio. Olin was a starter last season and Osorio is ready to step up to Olin’s level.

“Erik has really improved, skill-wise and athletically,” Roll said. “He’s improved as a Where the Spartans are younger is at the outside mids, where freshman Aaron Shartin-Folkert and sophomore Ben Rybacki are stepping into roles. Shartin-Folkert has shown the foot skills and knowledge to start as a freshman.

“Ben has been one of the biggest surprises. He’s grown 4 or 5 inches and he’s a really smart player,” Roll said.

Andrew Beasley will also see work as an outside mid.

Senior James Clute returns to lead the offense, in his third year as a starting forward for the team. Sophomore Lucas Giossi has moved to forward to team with Clute.

“Our front four (Clute, Giossi, Olin and Osorio) have really good rapport,” Roll said. “Eric and Elliott are doing a good job of overlapping and covering for each other,” Dominic Abbott will back up the forwards while Kaine Lee will back up the midfielders. He could see action in a number of positions during the season.

Roll said the Spartans believe they should be a talented offensive team with several players who can be good finishers. While the Spartans don’t have large numbers, hard work over the summer has gotten a lot of players ready for their roles.

“They’ve gotten more athletic, the guys who are here,” Roll said.

Roll said he believes New Richmond and Amery bring back the strongest squads in the Middle Border Conference this season. He said he is hoping the Spartans will be competitive in the next tier of teams, where he expects Barron and Baldwin- Woodville to compete on the same level as the Spartans.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.

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