By Chris Chaney
The Batavia Bulldogs boys’ soccer team hasn’t gotten off to an ideal start in 2013, but the 10-time defending Southern Buckeye Conference champions seem to have righted the ship in their most recent match, an in-conference contest with SBC American opponent Clermont Northeastern.
Through three games, hardly a representative sample size, the Bulldogs stand at 1-2, losing close matches to two top-10 teams in the city in Madeira (3-1) and Mariemont (1-0).
Bouncing back on Aug. 22, however, Batavia was able to jump out of its scoring slump netting six goals in the first half of their SBC opener. The Bulldogs played possession soccer in the second half, forcing the Rockets to chase them around the pitch and taking only a few opportunities on goal when they presented themselves.
Expectations are always high in the Batavia soccer program and winning a piece of the last 10 league championship, head coach Kevin Scheel knows that his squad will get their opponents’ best shot every time they take the field. Still, the goals for the season only begin with extending that lofty mark.
“First and foremost, (our expectation) is to extend our streak of league championships,” Scheel said. “Our goal is always to make it further in the state tournament. Overall, the team goal right now is to make it to the district finals.”
Despite losing three seniors to graduation, all of whom were All-League performers, the Bulldogs still have a solid senior presence on their roster. Of the seven fourth year players, co-captains Chris Bourque and Kyle Schmitgen will be looked to the most to lead the six juniors and seven underclassmen on the roster.
“Chris is moving up from defense to center-mid(field), which should be a change that I think he’ll adjust fine to,” Scheel said. “Kyle is our biggest offensive threat and he looks to take on that role and bring other guys into that role as well.”
Schmitgen leads the team in goals scored, finding the back of the net twice against CNE and scoring the lone goal in the season opener against Madeira.
Bourque also has one goal to his name, as does senior Jordan Davis, while junior Jake Greiner slotted two against the Rockets.
If the Bulldogs have any concern for 2013, it could be their lack of depth. Steering clear of the injury bug could be a big concern for Coach Scheel and his Bulldogs, but if they are able to do so, they are once again the odds-on favorites to win the SBC National.
While others are pegging Batavia as the potential league champs, Scheel knows that there is some strong competition out there vying for their top spot.
“Our biggest competition will be Georgetown this year,” Scheel said. The Bulldogs have proven they can beat CNE, but with the G-Men looming on Batavia’s radar, they need to watch out for Blanchester as well who defeated Georgetown 2-1 in the first game of their respective seasons.
Going beyond the first week of the season, Scheel sees a few games as barometers for success and an opportunity to solidify his team as one of the best in the area.
“We’re looking at every game as it comes up,” Scheel said. “We’ve got some good competition coming up. McNick is always one of our biggest rivals and we look to take on Amelia again as they got the better of us last year and we want to get back at them.”
First, though, the Bulldogs will have to finish their initial tour of the SBC National, playing the remaining three teams in the league over the next week.
Batavia started with Felicity on Tuesday, Aug. 27 then will travel to Georgetown on Aug. 29 and finish up with Blanchester on Sept. 3 before kicking off their rivalry game with McNicholas on Sept. 5.