GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable boys soccer team has a new look as a number of key contributors have moved on, including Derek McCaffrey, Rich Pomeroy, T. J. Van Riper, Brian McCarron and coach Jason Gutzler.
But as first-year Groton-Dunstable boys soccer coach Sean Wisbey becomes more familiar with his roster, the picture is coming into focus. The Crusaders will field a young team this season, with only four seniors, and Wisbey has a list of 11 probable/possible starters as the season-opener against Bromfield approaches.
Four seniors are captains and figure to start — Mike Hilbrunner at right back, Devin Goudey at outside back or stopper, Tynan McLeod at right midfield, and Peter Georges at center mid or stopper.
“Mike provides plenty of experience, leadership and he is a technically sound player,” said Wisbey. “Devin has great size and he has emerged as a leader. He is starting to become better with his position play and he has made a big improvement since the start of pre-season. Tynan is the fastest player on the team and understands his position. He is versatile, has good game awareness and we are looking for him to finish. Peter is the smartest player on the team. He plays within himself and he is emerging as a leader.”
Juniors who are probable starters include midfielder Alex Merlino, sweeper Peter Ellerkamp, center midfielder Chris McKinney, left back Jack Barrett and midfielder Kyle Romich.
“Alex has a strong left foot and is very skilled,” said Wisbey. “He understands the game and sees the field very well. Peter is a steady player with deceptive sped and he can catch an opponent with a burst of speed. Chris is one of the best technical players on the team and he is skilled. He keeps the game simple and settles play well. Jack is strong, solid and physical and is technically sound. Kyle has good size and is very athletic. He has good skills and has a lot of upside and he will continue to get better.”
Sophomores expected to start include forwards Nate Pomeroy and Doug Rosa.
“Nate is big, strong and has a hard shot,” said Wisbey. “Doug is technically sound and skilled. Both Nate and Doug are versatile players and they give us a nice 1-2 punch up front.”
The starting goaltending berth is up for grabs.
“Right now freshmen Jamie Bailey and Connor Maguire, and sophomore John Nyilis are in a dead heat for the job,” said Wisbey. “They all have different strengths.”
Wisbey believes that depth will be a plus this season. That depth comes from junior center midfielder Ben Chilcoat, junior midfielder Daniel Beyh, sophomore forward Morgan Manthous, sophomore forward Alex Murphy, sophomore outside back Mike Keating, sophomore outside back Eric Stone, sophomore stopper Paola Filho, sophomore sweeper Tim Higgins, and freshman midfielder Dan McGuinness.
“Ben is a skilled player who distributes the ball well,” said Wisbey. “Daniel is big and strong, has good speed and understands the game. Morgan can score goals, has potential and just needs to adjust to a new level. Alex is another player who can score but needs experience. Mike is a skilled player who is evolving. I like the way he plays. Eric will come off the bench and has good skills and just needs to get more physical. Paola has experience at his position and is calm and confident. He is consistent and will see good playing time. Tim has great speed and continues to improve. He provides a good defensive option off the bench. Dan has good speed and is technically sound. He is mature for a freshman and has a great future.”
What are the Crusaders’ strengths heading into the season?
“We have good size, speed and we do a nice job of controlling the ball,” said Wisbey. “These kids are like sponges and the kids want it badly. My concerns are the overall inexperience that a young team has, especially in goal.
“Our goals are to win 10 games and to make the Districts, to win a MidWach B championship, and to take a shot at a District title,” said Wisbey. “We want to jell throughout the season and to be playing our best soccer at the end. I must be patient in the development of the team. We will play a lot of kids the first four games and we want to build depth throughout the season. I am really having a lot of fun and I understand that this season is a learning experience for me. We are a work in progress but this has been a great change for me. I want the kids to represent their school and communities in the right way and we want to develop players who play in college.”