CANTON, Nov. 13 – All the pieces were never in place at the same time for the Canton High boys soccer team this fall. Coach Bill Phelps expected to begin the season with Mike Setzler in goal but that didn’t happen because he got hurt in July.
Adjusting to that loss caused ripples throughout the lineup and it took time for the Warriors to adjust. Ten games into the season, the Warriors had just three wins and a 3-6-1 record.
But they won five of their final six games to go into the Class S tournament on a roll. They survived a rugged first round game with St. Bernard and prevailed 1-0 on a goal from Brian Lochner.
Against No. 2 Valley Regional, the Warriors got an early goal from Steven Carpenter in the first minute of the game. But Valley rallied for two goals to end the season for the Warriors. In the second half, Canton outshot Valley, 9-2 and had three breakaways.
“The boys knew how well they played and that they were the better team,” Phelps said. “But the better team doesn’t always win.
“We had the ability and everything was coming together,” Phelps said. “We were getting better each day. They played their best game in their last game. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
With Setzler’s injury, Phelps moved strong midfielder Connor Smyth into the net. Sophomore Louie Hiza and senior Sean Haendiges took turns in net as well. Haendiges finally settled in as the team’s goalie midway through the season. Smyth returned to midfield and scored four goals.
Eleven different players scored goals this year including Ryan Gallagher with a hat trick (3 goals) against East Windsor and Lochner with a hat trick against Bolton.
“One of the most resilient aspects was they had to play in different positions depending on who were playing,” Phelps said. “There was a great attitude on the team. The kids came together as a team which is a dream that all coaches have.”
In the backfield, sweeper Jon Phelps and stopper Michael Pepin anchored the defense. Matt Grisivich, Nick Tuback and David Shahverdian shared time at fullback.
At midfield, Tyler Detorie was at center midfield with Travis Dougherty, James Solomon, Blaine Houlihan, Smyth and Andrew Crowley playing midfield positions. At forward, Carpenter, Gallagher and Lochner were the biggest threats.
Canton (9-8-1, 8-7-1 NCCC) had 12 seniors on the team and seven started.