The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

August 20, 2013

Young Cougars to get early start on soccer season

College Heights Christian will get a head start on its soccer season by facing Carl Junction, Neosho and Webb City in its first soccer jamboree at 5 p.m. Thursday at Carl Junction.

Cougars head coach Daniel Lewis has the task of blending four seniors, including first-team all-district midfielder Dalton Zarrabi, into a unit that includes two juniors and 11 sophomores and freshmen.

“We’re trying to use the experience of the older kids to help direct the younger kids,” Lewis said.

“Really, we’re doing a lot more scrimmaging because we have so many freshmen who weren’t with us last year.”

Zarrabi, who had 26 goals and 10 assists as a junior, will move to forward and is the Cougars’ leading returning scorer. Midfielder Kellen Grantham had eight goals and 11 assists last year as a freshman.

The other College Heights seniors are forward Christopher Taylor, who had five goals and eight assists last year; fullback Tim Damaso, and goalkeeper Michael James. The juniors are fullbacks Lijah Sparlin and Tyler Melton.

Lewis said he will be counting on some talented freshmen to help overcome the loss of five seniors, four of whom — including leading scorer Brantly Gossett — were either first or second team all-district.

“We’re going to miss Brantly’s 41 goals,” Lewis said. “We’re going to have a freshman up there and maybe two. We’re not going to be as deep as we have been. We’re not going to have a JV schedule because we only have 17 kids.”

Making up for the offense lost from last year’s 16-7 team by playing tight defense is a concept Lewis said fits his style of play.

“You see how low scoring a game is, so defense is always the name of the game,” he said. “When we went to state those three years, we had a strong offense, but it was our defense that got us there. Even the state champion was only able to score one goal on us.”

Sophomores who picked up valuable varsity experience last season are midfielders Anthony Skinner and Alex Edge along with fullbacks Brady Bishop and Laken Thompson.

College Heights’ regular season begins Aug. 26-27 with what has become an annual road trip for games against Richland and Laquey.

“Several years ago, Richland and Laquey were in our district but we didn’t play them,” Lewis said. “So we’ve made them the first part of our schedule where we make it an overnight trip and we can get a little bonding.

“I think we can definitely be in the top couple of teams in the district and maybe play for a championship.”

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