By KRIS MILLS – firstname.lastname@example.org
A large roster turnover has left Shelbyville head soccer coach Ben Purvis with a different type of challenge heading into the 2019 season.
Despite losing 12 seniors to graduation, the Golden Bears return a chunk of their core. But where will those key players be located on the field in a new campaign? That has been a work in progress for Purvis, who enters his sixth season with the program. But the former SHS soccer player turned head coach is prepared. Purvis is enthusiastic about his talented group.
“We will have a lot of firepower, but we will be young with our depth,” Purvis said. “Our starting lineup will still be experienced and talented, but we are not going to be as deep as last year.”
Seniors Evan Witte, Cory Taylor and Nolan Parker and junior Oscar Hernandez all return with plenty of varsity experience. Witte finished with 11 goals and five assists last season, helping SHS finish with a 9-7 record. He will move to the middle of the field, while Parker will move to the outside. Hernandez added eight goals last season while Taylor scored five.
Junior Brock Pitman and sophomore Alex Gil are also players to watch, according to Purvis.
“I expect us to be dangerous with our attack,” Purvis said. “Nolan is going to be out wide and Evan has made huge strides to just completely run the midfield. We flipped them (Witte and Parker). Evan and Oscar can combine well in the middle. Cory is going to play centrally.
“Brock will be a defensive anchor behind the midfield. He is tough. I think Alex is going to surprise a lot of people this year on the wing. He is just a hustler.”
Trae Hassebroek scored 21 goals and dished out 13 assists last season but is now playing at the University of Indianapolis. Eric Beyer, Logan Clark, Nick Amos, Keaton Rice, Garrett Davis, Aldair Salvatierra and Grant Martin were also key members of last season’s team.
“We just lost so much in the back (defense) last year,” Purvis said. “Last year, we wanted to sit back defensively and look to get it to Trey and maybe he would have some options out wide. It worked out with that group.
“We will have more of a pressing style of attack this year. These guys just have phenomenal chemistry. They all know they have support. When we need to, we have worked on flipping a switch and becoming more defensive.”
Although young in terms of starting experience, Purvis has upperclassmen ready to contribute on defense. Purvis said seniors Jackson Browning, Carson Blair and Cameron Baker can compete at a high level.
In goal, junior Kaleb Schaf replaces Nick Amos. Purvis said Amos and Schaf are two very different types of goalies.
“Kaleb is fearless, probably the most fearless goalie I have seen since coaching here,” Purvis said. “Nick Amos was really tall and lanky. Kaleb is a little shorter but can out-jump anyone. I think we will be successful with him out there.”
Shelbyville removed Greensburg and added Hamilton Southwestern to its schedule. HSE finished last season ranked No. 5 in the state. The Greensburg game, simply put, was usually a blowout win.
“(HSE) will be a good test for us early in the season,” Purvis said. “It is our fourth game of the year. Our goal has always been to get ready for conference and the sectional. I felt HSE gave us a better test. We want to challenge the kids.”
Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.