By Garth Shanklin
The Bethel-Tate Tigers boys’ soccer team had a solid season in 2015. The squad won 10 games and finished second in the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division to Blanchester.
Three players of that Tigers team have graduated. Senior Ian Kimmerly earned second-team all-league honors while Tanner Colwell and Evan Iding both were named to the first team. Head coach Dave Schellenberger said he believed Idling had an excellent year in 2015.
“I thought he had a great season,” Schellenberger said. “Everybody else needed to step up to make him a bit more successful. He got to play in an all-star game at the end of the season, which is a goal for our seniors now.”
This year’s team has two seniors, Zach Austin and Trenton Weeks. Schellenberger believes the pair should provide valuable leadership for the rest of the team.
“I expect a lot of leadership,” Schellenberger said. “We have a young team. There are new people every year so sometimes it’s difficult for seniors to take over and have that leadership. They have a handful of a task in front of them.”
Schellenberger said the team expects to have a lot of younger players in important roles.
“We’ll have freshman starting, sophomores in key roles,” Schellenberger said. “We’re pretty young. I expect our juniors to really step up, for us to be successful the juniors have to come through.”
One of those spots where a younger player could be given a huge task is the goalkeeper position. The Tigers started the offseason with a three-man race in the net, and since they’ve narrowed it down to two players, one of whom is a freshman.
Regardless of which player ends up in net, they will have to perform well for the Tigers to achieve their team goals this season.
“We always strive to be in the top two [of the division],” Schellenberger said. “Number one is to try to win it, but we always try to be in the hunt of a championship. That’s what we expect out of them, we expect them to come through the season thinking they have a chance.”
On the girls’ side, head coach Ron Shook said the team’s fitness was an issue in 2015.
“We were not as fit as I wanted us to be, and it led to a lot of minor injuries that hampered us for most of the season,” Shook said. “We’ve worked hard this summer to make sure that won’t happen this year.”
Shook has three seniors returning to his Lady Tigers squad this season, two of which earned some kind of conference honor in 2015. Sam Gardner was named a first-team all-conference player while Haylee Foster earned second-team honors. Rose Smith also returns for Bethel-Tate this year.
The Lady Tigers add nine new players to the squad, and according to Shook most of those players will step in right away and have large roles with the team.
In addition to the team’s seniors, Shook pointed out a few other players fans should keep their eyes on this year.
“Taylor Harnes is a junior forward who has size and strength and should be ready to make her presence known,” Shook said. “Macy Dunaway and Olivia Salvatore are junior defenders that should also get a lot of playing time, and I expect Brooke Stiles to have another great year as our goalkeeper.”
Stiles, a sophomore, will have a tough task ahead as Shook said one of the team’s goals was to challenge for the SBAAC National Division title.
The Lady Tigers begin that quest on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. for a home contest against Georgetown. The boys’ team begins play three days earlier on Aug. 20 against St. Bernard at 6 p.m. The game will be played in Bethel.