Thursday, April 18, 2024

Boys Soccer Preview: Berkshire Badgers

After setting a school record for wins in a single season last fall, the Berkshire boys’ soccer team is ready to raise the bar even higher this fall.

The Badgers, who finished last season 10-7-2, return 10 starters and 11 others with varsity experience and already are off to a 1-1 start this season.

“We are coming off of a record season with higher goals,” said fifth-year head coach Nick Fejedelem. “These boys are driven and are striving to achieve to do even better, but no matter the record, I know they will always play well together and they always have each other’s backs.”

Berkshire did lose a few key seniors but the Badgers reloaded and are ready for more.

“We are returning a lot of key players and have a diverse group of kids who can work together efficiently, so my aspirations are high this year for them. They have a lot of potential,” Fejedelem said. “We had lost seniors that filled the midfield positions, so we had to fill those holes. We lost leadership that already has proven to be filled.”

Senior forwards Jack Jacobs and Apollo Percic combined to score 35 goals with seven assists last season.

Jacobs, a first-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference and second-team All-Greater Cleveland honoree, scored 14 goals with three assists. He also recorded 19 saves. Percic, a first-team All-CVC and All-Greater Cleveland selection, finished the year with 21 goals and four assists.

“Jack is a senior who was one of our top scorers last season. He is very versatile and an ultimate threat on the field,” Fejedelem said. “Apollo is a senior who was the top goal scorer with 21 goals last year. We expect big things from him in the way of scoring.”

In the midfield, senior Joey Czekaj and sophomore Trent Hornak return.

Czekaj scored seven goals with three assists on his way to earning second-team All-CVC and All-Greater Cleveland honors. Hornak added two goals and four assists.

“Joey is a senior and captain last year who holds down our center midfield slot and is a huge presence of pressure on the field. Has great decision making,” Fejedelem said. “Trent is a sophomore with great foot skills and awareness. He is a very tenacious midfielder.”

Berkshire’s defense is anchored by seniors Troy Hornak and Jacob Landrus and sophomore Billy Mooney.

Hornak was a second-team All-CVC and All-Greater Cleveland selection while Landrus and Mooney both earned honorable mention All-Greater Cleveland honors.

“Troy is a defensive sweeper and a captain last year. He is very speedy and can execute the ball with accuracy,” Fejedelem said. “Defensive pressure from (Landrus) does not go unnoticed. Jacob is a senior with high energy and a big heart on the field. Billy is quick and has great reaction times, as well as accurate passing and strong attack skills.”

Berkshire’s experience should pay dividends this year, especially with the chemistry the Badgers already have developed.

“This group is a close-knit group,” Fejedelem said. “They pick each other up and don’t put each other down. We have solid leaders from the upperclassmen and an understanding of what our goals are as a program. We can maximize that by playing as a family, and minimize the weaknesses by supporting each other on and off the field.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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