Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Young Eagles ready to fly

Last fall, Geneva won the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title but the Eagles open the 2020 season with a much younger roster.

Despite their youth, the Eagles still have the potential to determine the outcome of the Valley Division.

“We have a lot of learning to do as we are a young team,” said eighth-year head coach Jeff Hull. “As we gain experience, we should improve and can become a very competitive team.”

The Eagles, who finished 10-6-1 overall and 6-0 in league play last fall, return five starters but have some gaping holes to fill.

“We will be replacing a four-year starter at keeper and we are losing three starting midfielders and our starting center back from last season,” Hull said. “Our keeper this year has played strong on JV the past two seasons and is ready to take the next step up. Our midfield will be filled with youth. How quickly they adapt to playing at the high school varsity level will determine our success this year.”

Junior Evan Burgett moves up from JV to the starting goalkeeper role.

He’s fortunate to have two solid defenders to help protect the net in senior Kenley Cunningham and junior Jack Kollhoff. Cunningham is a team captain and Kollhoff was named second-team all-county last season.

Geneva’s midfield is young—based on experience—but the Eagles do have three upperclassmen ready for their opportunities.

Seniors Jon Huang and Matt Siekkinen and junior Ethan Yost should provide a formidable trio in the position.

Yost and Huang both were named honorable mention all-county. Each scored one goal and added an assist last year. Siekkinen also scored a goal with an assist as a junior.

Three seniors are slotted to play forward for the Eagles.

Jay Pocatko scored four goals and added five assists last season. Andrew Kozsey, a team captain, returns to action after missing 2019 with an injury. Dakota Hutchinson is making his first appearance at the varsity level.

“We have many young players who are working hard at practice and are battling for spots,” Hull said. “This will give us the ability to play a lot of different players and eventually roll with the players who are giving us the best chance to be competitive.”

Hull knows his young team will make its fair share of mistakes. It’s how quickly the Eagles can move on from those errors that will determine how much success the team can enjoy this fall.

“We need to learn from our mistakes this season in order to improve and be successful,” Hull said. “With youth and inexperience come mistakes. We will have to live and learn from those mistakes and hope they help us and don’t come at critical points in the game.”

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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