After a rebuilding season in which the Oriole soccer team finished 3-13, Augusta is ready to make a comeback.
Last season, the Orioles took the field with zero seniors on the roster, and many freshman had the opportunity to contribute to the team.
“We had a tough year last year, but the positive was that our freshman had the opportunity to play and gain some real game experience, and they have a better understanding of the speed and physicality that it is going to take to win games in our league,” said Augusta head coach Dusty Buell.
Two Oriole freshman, Daniel Doell and Anthony Orocio, earned all-league honors last season.
“He [Orocio] will command attention from our opponents, and he will take the role as distributor as well as attacker. There really isn't anything on the soccer field that this kid can't do,” said Buell.
Wyatt Pankratz also stood out as a freshman last year and has already shown improvements coming into this season.
“We will be moving him from the outside to the inside this year,” said Buell.
“He has gotten stronger and faster over the past year and has basically put us coaches in a position that we don't want him out of the game.”
Braydon Wilcox is another sophomore who started up front as a freshman and will be transitioning to the midfield this season.
“[Braydon] will transition from a forward position to a defensive midfield position. This is more of his natural position. When he is focused and prepared, he can be one of the best on the field,” said Buell.
The six seniors will all play key roles in the system and provide leadership. Jake Tucker, Connor Davis, Jakob Bergkamp Phoenix Hogan and Andrew Dunton, and Braden Jergensesen are all playing their final season for the Orioles.
According to Buell, Augusta senior goalkeeper Braden Jergensen has taken leaps and bounds since his freshman year.
“[Jergensen] has improved more than any other kid I have ever seen from freshman to senior year. He is going to be our anchor in the back and I have full confidence in his abilities between the pipes.”
Even though the Orioles return every member of last year’s team, Buell expects more players to step up and add to the team’s depth. Freshman striker Payton Ball is expected to make an impact in his first season as an Oriole. Sophomore Nathan Joseph will also be expected to step up and help solidify the Orioles’ back line.
“We are still a relatively young squad, but we have a greater focus than we have had in previous years, and we have guys that want to do things the right way,” said Buell.
“We work extremely hard in practice and these guys have the heart to compete every game.”
Augusta will kick off their season at home against Berean Academy on Tuesday, Aug. at 6:30 PM