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By Phil Haddad
For Journal Register News Service
The Oley Valley High School boys’ soccer team is off to a 2-2-1 start, including a 1-0-1 record in the Berks League. Coach Shawn Meals didn’t expect the team to lose two straight games to start the season, however, on the positive side it forced the team to refocus before they started league play.
“The guys are starting to gain a better understanding of their roles/responsibilities within the system we’re utilizing,” said Meals.
The expectations for the Lynx soccer team don’t change from year to year. They are to contend for the county championship and to qualify and compete at the district, and hopefully, the state levels.
“We definitely believe these are attainable goals,” said Meals. “We have a solid core of returning players who have worked hard during the offseason to make the season as successful as possible.
“Our goals are centered around a team concept and if we lose sight of that, we’ll fall short of achieving those goals,” said Meals.
You won’t find a superstar player on this team. They do not have that big-time scorer other teams have, but they Lynx do have a lot of experience and depth. The hope is that different players can carry the goal-scoring role on different nights.
Coach Meals has a mixed group this year. Seniors Nate Dietrich, Dylan McKently and Joe Fick are returning from last year. Juniors Gabe Duran, Greg Whitehouse, Marcus Frangakis, Austin Swoyer and sophomore Zach Russo are also returning from the 2011 season.
“All of these guys had time last year (on the varsity team). All gained playoff experience in counties and districts,” said Meals.
There are also a few freshmen who are looking to make an impact on the 2012 season. They are Ben Meier, Chad Meier, Matt Burns, Gabe Velasquez, Ryan Krall and Mark Stinley. Sophomore Tristan Weller is also looking to make an impact on the team.
The Berks County League has a new look going from four divisions to three. The Lynx will compete in the Berks 3. This will be an interesting change for everyone who is in the Berks County League.
“Realignment of divisions is going to make things a little more interesting,” said Meals. “It definitely puts more pressure on teams in Division 3 from a performance standpoint and for playoffs. Nevertheless, overall picture from previous years is still the same – we must take a game by game approach.”
Meals feels that his team will be able to compete for a league title. “The guys are hungry and they are playing as a team,” said Meals. “They want to prove that last year’s appearance in the county semis was not a fluke.”