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boys soccer preview: Young HVA soccer boys learning fast in preseason scrimmages

Under “high school experience,” it doesn’t take many words to fill out the resumés of Hardin Valley Academy’s 2009 varsity boys soccer team in the program’s inaugural season.

“This being our first year, the only accomplishments I know of are what they’ve done in club situations,” HVA head coach Mike McLean said. “As far as high school, we’re fairly young — we’re all freshmen and sophomores, and we have just two juniors, and [neither] played high school soccer last year.”

Having served as Karns High School boys soccer head coach in 2007 and 2008, McLean brought over notable transfers from KHS. Just one problem.

“Two of them would be my two best players on the team, but they’re ineligible,” the coach said. “They have to sit out a year and play J-V.”

Biggest team strength? “I’d say the ability to defend as a team,” said McLean, who also has college coaching experience as an assistant at Tusculum College in Greeneville.

During scrimmages, “I’ve actually been impressed with how we’re handling the aggressiveness of playing a lot older guys starting all freshmen and sophomores. And keeping our heads when it gets a bit aggressive.”

Though having beaten Sevier County 6-1 and Seymour 2-1 in HVA’s two scrimmages entering the week, “I played my three ineligible players because it’s just scrimmage games,” McLean said. “Three of those guys would definitely be starters for us and be three of our better players.”

Individually, “We have a freshman, Dalton Guzman, who was on a ranked club team in the nation who’s just an absolute stud for us,” McLean said of his freshman center-midfielder. “He’ll be a starter all four years.

“Justin Haskell’s our player with the most experience,” McLean added about one of his two center-back defenders. “He’s stepping up to be one of our better players.

“Besides that, we’ve just got a lot of role players to get us through the first year of being so young and inexperienced,” McLean added.

Joey Hinshaw will be goalkeeper. Trent Stethen is the other center-back defender. Outside-back defenders are Ryan Bataille and Jake Callela.

Tyler Baker and Garrett Hay are the Hawks’ other center-midfielders. Flanking them on the outside midfield are Devon Cox and junior Nick Boyd.

The lone forward is Slade McGuire.

Other players looking to contribute include Dewayne Tucker, Nick Yoder, Alex Turner, Hayden Zelem, Ricky Ferre, Nick Skoda, Mathias Hoover, Delaney Estes, Joseph Garlington, Alex Johnson, Tyler Bauman, Michael Pereyo, Jared Roberts, David Morse, Hans Galle, Sam Gargis, Brandon Roy, Matt Graves and Andrew Turne.

Other Hawks looking to contribute are Andrew Bingham, Jonathan Perelman, Mitch Miller, Logan Presnell, Ryan Wagner, Steven Gallaher, Max Silver-Alford, Fabrizio Muscia, Josh Penny, Tyler Trew, Patrick Meek, Kevin Brandel, Evan Davis and Corey Sutton.

As for setting goals, McLean said, “We actually set the bar pretty high the first year. That’s why I came to this school, because the expectations being in a West Knoxville school [that] traditionally has the better soccer teams.

“We didn’t set them to where we wanted to win state this year, but we set [goals] to where we want to be competitive in our district and play in the semifinal [district tournament] game to go on to the regionals,” he added.

“Maybe next year we can set it as wanting to do well at regionals. One step at a time, and three years down the road hopefully we’ll be one of the teams looking to qualify for state.”

As for his 2009 slate of games, the Hawks skipper said, “We actually open up with one of the hardest schedules, we have Catholic (2008 Class A/AA state champ) at KCHS Tuesday, March 10, followed by Lenoir City, Bearden and Webb right off the bat.

“And each one of them will have about nine, 10, 11 seniors, and we won’t have any,” McLean added. “We’re going to have to definitely jell as a team and get used to playing with each other.”

Hardin Valley Academy opens its inaugural season at Knoxville Catholic beginning at 7 p.m., March 10.

The Hawks’ home opener against Lenoir City begins at 7 p.m., Friday, March. 13.


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