Veteran group has Mountain Lions poised for history
The Long Trail School boys soccer team has started the season at 9-2 and are poised to finish the year as the top seed, something the team — which started in 2004 — has never done.
Last year, the Mountain Lions were the No. 3 seed in D-IV, the highest seed in school history, and won its opening round game before falling in penalties to Sharon in the quarterfinals. But that team went 10-4-1 and this year's version — with nine seniors — is looking to take the next step.
"I've had a lot of these seniors for four years now, using the same system," said LTS coach Tim Smith. "Everyone is accustomed to the team and teammates, having good chemistry is one of the benefits."
One main plus this season for the Mountain Lions is their depth. Along with the nine seniors, Smith said he could start a junior and three sophomores, that he's able to go 15 deep on his bench, something that many coaches would love to have, but in Division IV, it's a tangible benefit.
"I've been coaching soccer for 20 years, and it's a huge advantage," Smith said. "And we're not a one-trick pony on offense, we've had 11 different scorers this year."
Things were looking good in 2016, but the season ended with a whimper after a pair of injuries to Will McCullough and Evan Crumb. This year, the injuries have stayed away for the most part.
McCullough has come back strong in 2017 as the team's leading scorer with 16 goals in 10 games.
"He's tearing it up," Smith said. "He's got good touch on the ball and he's tough to defend."
If teams try to focus on McCullough, others can put the ball in the back of the net.
"If you can take Will out, good luck, teams try," Smith said. "He's the household name on scouting, but like [West Rutland's] Eric Maxham, you can only try to contain them. Both are really fine players, they can beat you with goals or assists."
Defensively, Smith said they have a good core of players who have worked together for the past two years on the back line.
"We play four in the back and they're experienced," Smith said. "My sweeper is 6-foot-3 and my stopper is 6-foot-2."
Luc Carmel, Levin Coe, Liam Murphy, Eli Sanderson and Ryan Powers are a solid group that has only allowed 10 goals in their 11 games. In net, Carmel has four shutouts.
Between the midfield and defense, they can also put the ball in the net with 18 goals as a unit this season.
The team has three regular season games left — against Arlington, Black River and West Rutland. Each of those sides will prove tough, but the Mountain Lions look to make some more noise when the playdowns begin in a couple of weeks. LTS has hit a bit of a snag, with an overtime loss to Proctor and a 2-0 setback to a 7-2-2 Sharon squad.
"We're pretty battle tested and good at rebounding, which shows our resolve," Smith said.
Roster: Luc Carmel, Franco Cassotti, Levin Coe, Luca Ditursi, Will McCullough, Nate Misasi, Garrett Petrossi, Ryan Powers, Eli Sanderson, Emmett Morgan, Liam Murphy, Ocean Tang, Ben Boggio, Sean Bottomms, Oisin Harrington, Lang Quail, Ben Park, Melvin Ryan, Ben Spiro, Peter Tschaikowsky, Alex Stefurak. Santi Verdu and Jason Caggiano.
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