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The 2013 soccer season was a disappointing one for Bethlehem, which saw its long streak of district championships and region tournament appearances snapped.
But coach Tim Hurst says that he thinks his team can right the ship this year.
“We had a tough schedule last year and we were very competitive, but we couldn’t finish many games,” he said.
The Eagles finished 7-13-1 and lost their final seven matches, including a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Thomas Nelson in the 19th District semifinals.
Hurst said his squad does not have a lot of numbers this year, and that can could some issues.
“It’s going to be very important for us to stay healthy,” he said. “We are going to have to stay injury-free. We don’t have a lot of depth, so we’ve told the kids that they may have to play several positions.”
Hurst is expecting seniors J.T. Mattingly and Sloan Seeger to spearhead his team’s scoring attack. Mattingly led the team in goals (19) and assists (8) last year.
“I’ve played soccer for four years so I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” Mattingly said. “I want to carry the team, and I like the fact that coach is relying on me. That makes me feel good.
“I have a good supporting cast that can get me the ball to give me some good opportunities. I just hope to be able to finish them.”
Seeger and fellow senior Cailin Jones combined for 11 goals last year and will be looked to for leadership along with Mattingly.
“Sloan is showing good leadership for us in the early going,” Hurst said. “He has really stepped up for us so far.”
Jones brings versatility to the table, Hurst said.
“He’s been such an all-around skilled player,” he said. “We are going to have to take advantage of that.”
The Eagles lost several seniors who manned their defense, including two-year starting goalkeeper Collin Rogers. Junior Isaac Hutchins gets his turn in goal now.
“Isaac has really gotten himself into shape and that has helped him,” Hurst said. “He’s played really well in our scrimmages and he is going to be a key for us. He’s going to have to get thrown into the frying pan and will have to learn by playing.”
Senior Beaux Harrison saw extensive action last year and will be a key cog in the Eagles’ defense. Fellow senior Mark Newcomb is one of those players who will play multiple positions, though his coach said that he would spend a lot of time at fullback.
“We’re going to be depending on him to man our back end,” Hurst said.
Newcomb said a growth spurt led to a position change.
“I played on the wing some when I was a freshman, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown a few inches and gained some weight and have played more at fullback,” he said. “I think coach is trying to figure out the best place to put us.”
A pair of sophomores, James Blanford and Jake Satterly will also be needed to make contributions.
“They both played as freshmen and we’ll be looking for good things out of them,” Hurst said.
The Eagles open their season next week with a start that Hurst says will test his team early.
They entertain All A Classic rival Collegiate on Tuesday before going on the road to face North Hardin and Nelson County, an early district showdown between the traditional rivals.
“We’re going to find out quickly what we have,” Hurst said.