by Tom Utescher
First-year Germantown Friends boys soccer coach Sam McIlvain hasn’t had to start from scratch with his new team, but there was definitely some restructuring to be done due to substantial personnel changes.
Accepting the boys’ job after five seasons as head coach of the GFS girls’ squad, McIlvain knew he’d be missing seven 2011 team members who had graduated, but at least he figured to have back the starting goalie, who was only a sophomore last year.
Things didn’t work out that way, as former keeper Luke Scott decided to pursue his baseball dreams by enrolling at a dedicated diamond academy in Florida, and another player expected to be a member of the junior class contingent this year, promising midfielder Jack Moseley, transferred to another school.
That left the Tigers with just two 11th-graders on the roster, returning player Owen Scott, and new addition Jeremy Middleman.
Fortunately, there is a solid group of seniors, headed by 2012 co-captains Sam Hill-Cristol, the center back, and Will Randall, who has moved up from the defensive unit to become a striker.
“A number of the kids are playing new positions,” noted McIlvain. “We had gaps to fill and we’re just figuring out the best way to fit the pieces together.”
Two other 12th-graders back from last year are center mid Zack Raynor (“Really dependable in the middle,” McIlvain says), and goalie Nicolai Solomon (“Very solid so far,” according to the coach).
Another experienced senior, forward/mid Sam Conant, is currently working through an injury, and the team’s sixth senior, Mazin Blaik, is a new varsity player who will perform in a defensive role.
The defense will also feature sophomore twins Anand and Satya Butler, both of whom saw varsity action in 2011, along with classmates Issac Bushnell and Ben Steinlaus, who are midfielders. Two freshmen are also in the mix for the GFS varsity, mid/forward Felipe Sanz, and left wing Silas Shah.
After two close non-league losses to Penn Charter (2-3) and Episcopal Academy, the Tigers won their league opener last Friday, topping visiting Friends Select, 2-1. Randall, the newly-appointed striker, scored both GFS goals during the first half of the match.
“All things considered, I think the kids are pretty pleased with where we are,” McIlvain said.
Talking about his decision to change teams at the school, the new boys’ mentor said, “I really enjoyed my experience working with the girls’ team, but when I was asked to consider this opportunity [longtime boys’ coach Matt Zipin had retired] I knew I had to give it some serious thought. One of the things I enjoy about coaching is helping players develop and grow in the sport, and the boys’ program has some kids who have aspirations to play soccer in college.”