MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The University High School boys soccer team reached the state tournament three out of the last four years but have yet to bring a state title back to UHS in recent years.
After graduating the majority of the back line, head coach Michael Smith now must piece together a new defense.
“Biggest losses are on defense. And we have a couple main-stays back there but we are replacing two or three keys. Right now we’re just having some competitive practices and trying to see who can fit the bill,” Smith said.
But it’s one of the Hawks most experienced players who looks over his defense best.
Senior goalkeeper Timmy Bailey is a four year starter for UHS and he’s ready to lead this team hopefully to another trip to Beckley.
Bailey will lead the Hawks by following the footsteps of past players.
“Last year I was a captain, I saw how everything needs to work. I’ve been friends with all of the older players al my life. So, I just have to take accountability of what they used to do and I’m just going to do the same thing as them,” Bailey said.
And Smith has no doubts about his starter between the pipes.
“He just needs to be our strength in the back. He’s the quarterback back there, he’s the only one who sees the whole field. He has enough knowledge about them that we can rely on him to control the back a little bit. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Smith said.
Another key returner is the Hawk’s main source of goal scoring in senior First Team All-State forward, Riley Nett.
Nett a dominant part of the UHS offense and Nett expects big things out of himself and Smith expects much of the same.
“I’m expecting a lot. Senior year I want to kind of be a role model for the team, show them what’s going on and yeah, we’re hoping for big things,” Nett said.
“I expect Riley to be Riley. He’s going to be competitive, he’s going to be tough, he’s going to lead this team. He’s just one of those guys who’s transformed over the last year and a half and he’s been that guy we rely on to show up every day,” Smith said.
UHS switched formations towards the end of last season and they’re sticking with it.
The layout puts a big emphasis on the midfield and Smith likes who he has to fill those spots.
“We’ve certainly got Garrett Scardina and Charlie Walker out wide. They’re juniors who are returning that played a bug part last year. We’ve got JM Jones who’s back and healthy. He’ll be going between the front and the midfield. If he can stay healthy, he’s huge for us. We’ve got Kellen Adams, a junior who is starting to come into his own,” Smith said.
Smith said his Hawks still have a long way to go to get back to the level they were the past few years but he’s confident in his team and it all starts in game one against Preston.