By Chris Chaney
The Clermont County boys’ soccer scene has been dominated over the past few years by pair of teams on either side of the Southern Buckeye Conference, both of whom will be looking to continue their streaks in 2013 albeit with some fresh faces.
Amelia and Batavia have been world-beaters as far as in-conference matches go dating back to Amelia’s joining the SBC in 2010 and even back further for the Bulldogs, who have won at least a share of the league championship every year dating back to 2003.
Beginning with the Bulldogs, who last year went 7-1 in the SBC, head coach Kevin Scheel has said that winning another league title is always the goal, but that he and his squad are aiming higher in 2013.
“First and foremost, we want continue our streak of league championships,” he said. “But also, we always want to make it further in the state tournament. Our overall goal is to make it to the district finals.”
The Bulldogs will be led on that journey by a number of returning standouts headed up by senior co-captains Chris Bourque and Kyle Schmitgen.
Bourque will be playing center midfield during his senior season; a change from his usual defensive position, which Scheel believes should be a smooth transition and one that can help the Bulldogs control possession in the midfield. Schmitgen is the Bulldogs’ leading returning goal scorer and will be relied upon quite a bit for that offensive spark.
The Bulldogs will look at fellow defending co-champions Georgetown as their biggest threat to end their streak in the division, but Scheel also mentioned Amelia as a big game possibility.
“We look to take on Amelia again,” he said. “They got the better of us last year, so we look to get back at them for that.”
The Barons were senior-laden in 2012, but a quality program like the Barons seems to keep the talent pool running deep. Head coach Eric Burger will have limited senior leadership as Brogan Couch and Marcus Ellerhorst return as the lone two seniors on the roster from a year ago.
However, the Barons have a strong contingent of sophomores and juniors that have been gaining traction over the past few seasons.
Amelia has gone undefeated in their three years in the SBC, winning 27 games against zero losses and three draws. That lofty mark will be difficult to uphold in 2013, but the Barons look to be up to the challenge.
The biggest threat to the Barons on the American side of the league looks to be an experienced squad coming out of New Richmond. The Lions, who finished second behind Amelia last year, return three SBC All-Stars in seniors Michael Huber, Tyler Klein and Noah Chaney.
Two of the Lions’ three losses in the SBC last year came at the hands of Amelia, one 3-0 and the other 1-0. The pair’s first matchup on Sept. 4 will no doubt be a must-see game.
Others in the American looking to make a run at a title include Bethel and Goshen. Both finished on the lower half of the standings in 2012, but have some young talent that could change the course of the season as they gain more time on the pitch.
Bethel has a pair of juniors in Jason Altmayer and Adam Shinkle who were All-Star selections a year ago and look to improve upon last year’s 8-6-2 record in their third season at Bethel.
For Goshen, the Warriors have a little steeper mountain to climb as they finished 5-9-2 last year, but they return Ryan Williamson and Travis Scheadler in 2013 to their senior campaigns.
Back on the National side, Batavia will have to compete with up-and-comers Clermont Northeastern and Felicity. Both finished below .500 a year ago, but look to make the top teams in the league earn every victory.
In the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, Milford and Glen Este will look to better their standing in the second season of the new league.
The Eagles finished 2012 in fourth place with a record of 5-11-2 and Glen Este was right behind them with a mark of 6-9-2.
Glen Este will bring back a solid core after seeing seven players graduate following the 2012 season. The senior class this season, however, will be one of the deepest in the area as there will be eight members of the class of 2014 suiting up in purple and black.