Harvey’s boys’ soccer team has a new head coach and a new outlook entering the 2018 season.
The Red Raiders return seven starters from last season and first-year head coach Natalie Sisler is confident the team is ready to compete for the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division championship.
“Heading into this season, I see my team competing for the conference title,” Sisler said. “Harvey is playing an underdog role, which will have us flying under many teams’ radar due to last season’s performance. Teams we play will notice quickly that this season’s team is more talented, disciplined and organized than last year’s squad. This team’s squad has put a considerable amount of time and effort to being prepared for this upcoming season.”
Harvey finished 3-12-1 overall last season. They opened the year on Saturday with an 8-0 win over Villa-Angela St. Joseph.
“I feel as though we have a strong mix of older and younger players that are developing a great chemistry,” Sisler said.
Senior forward Jalen Allen led the Red Raiders with three goals and two assists in the win over VASJ. He scored four goals with three assists last fall.
“Jalen is a two-year captain and a great senior leader for this team,” Sisler said. “He has put in a lot of work in the offseason and the growth has been considerable. Jalen has shown through the preseason and the first game of the season to score in many ways and from anywhere on the field.”
Freshman Roderick Coffee will join Allen at forward. He scored two goals and added two assists in his high school debut on Saturday.
“Rod had a great middle school career, setting the school record with 40 goals,” Sisler said. “He shows great promise for his first game of the season.
Two seniors and a sophomore will start at midfield for Harvey.
Senior Omar Morales returns after scoring six goals and assisting on three others in earning second team All-CVC honors last fall.
“Omar is a second-year captain that is transitioning from a defensive role to an attacking midfield position,” Sisler said. “Omar is our leader in the midfield that orchestrates the team. He is strong both the attack and in defense.”
Senior Oscar Nila and sophomore Jony Pina round out the midfield. Pina scored one goal against VASJ.
“Oscar is a selfless player who is versatile and willing to play in any position necessary to help make the team better,” Sisler said. “Jony started as a freshman last season. He has the potential to be All-CVC this season. Defensively, he is a special kind of player with elite speed and instinct.”
The Red Raiders are mature and experienced on defense.
Seniors Eron Nila and Sergio Gonzalez and junior Luis Saldana will help to protect the net.
“Eron is our most experienced defender. He has great ball control and the strong ability to see the whole field. Eron’s vision adds a dimension to our team with his ability to distribute the ball from the back,” Sisler said. “Luis is developing into a strong defender. Sergio did not play last season and is providing the team a big defender capable of handling the ball from the back.”
Senior Carlos Sandoval and sophomore Alex Llamas are Harvey’s goalkeepers.
“Carlos transformed himself over the offseason in preparation for his senior season,” Sisler said. “Carlos, unfortunately, last season was injured causing him to miss the majority of the season. This season he is looking to be a leader and provide dependable stability for the team between the posts. Alex is a promising young player that shows flashes of brilliance and could become the keystone to the future of the program.”
The Red Raiders got off to a great start in the season opener and Sisler is confident the team will be successful if it plays with the same effort and consistency throughout the year.
“As a team, we need to stay positive and continue to work hard throughout the season,” Sisler said. “If we continue to focus and play collectively we should be successful.”