Expectations are high for the Fort Dorchester boys’ soccer team.
The Patriots, the defending Region 8-AAAA champions, are hoping to put the pieces together for another deep playoff run. Last season, the Fort advanced to the third round of the state playoffs before being eliminated by a 2-1 loss to Dutch Fork.
Fort Dorchester lost some key players to graduation, but has a skilled group of 14 lettermen returning, including nine starters, so coach Chris Jones is excited about the potential.
“We have set high goals for ourselves this season but there will be challenges,” Jones said. “The biggest challenge will be focusing on the process, not the outcome, each and every time we train or play. The boys have really worked at developing a passing style of play. We are doing some good things against our opponents in that regard, but we will have to continue to make sure our style can be effective in the final third of the field.”
Not including scrimmages, the Patriots are out to a 4-0 start this year. The team is ranked 13th among the state’s Class AAAA teams by the eurosportScoreboard.com poll. However, the Patriots will face stiff completion in their region, which includes 11th ranked Bluffton.
The strength of the Fort squad lies in its midfield, which is anchored by returning seniors Spencer Wilder, Andrew Kephart and Pablo Valenzuela. Last month, Kephart signed with the Francis Marion University soccer team.
Returning seniors Trent DeLeon Borque and Reid Couch will anchor the defense, which features a trio of skilled goalkeepers.
“We will use multiple keepers again this year,” Jones said. “We have three solid GK’s and I feel confident putting any of them between the posts on any given night.”
Senior Christian Baker returns after splitting time in goal last season. He is the only Patriot keeper with varsity experience but juniors Jake Fladd and Josh Smith have spent a lot of time in goal with their club teams.
Brandon Bozeman, Trenton DeLeon-Bourque and Clay Mahile also bring varsity experience to the defense.
Other players bringing experience to the midfield include Mathew Hardin, Koh Matsumoto, Gonzalo Millan and Ashton Reilly.
Junior Jack Stasek is the only player returning to the forward position so several players are vying for playing time up top.
New members of the team include Davis Colton, Nicholas Hestir, Ramiro Murguia, Dylan Norris, Kellan O’Hara, Hersh Patel, Michael Sandoval, Joshua Veloso, Andrew Veloso and Christian Wilkerson.
The Patriots host cross-town rival Summerville at 7 p.m. Friday and Goose Creek March 25.