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After a 2010 derailed by injuries, Ridgway boys soccer looks to make a comeback this fall.
One positive that head coach John Ogden took out of the injuries was seeing younger players get a chance to play at the varsity level.
â€śTheyâ€™re young but they all had the experience of playing last year because we had those injuries so all the freshmen that moved up to sophomores, theyâ€™re used to playing high school competition and actually the kids that are moving up on the team this year played throughout the summer,â€ť Ogden said. â€śWeâ€™ve got the experience and we got a good group of kids. I think now weâ€™re going to jell and I think weâ€™re going to surprise some people.â€ť
One aspect Ogden wants to enhance among the players is confidence in their own abilities.
â€śJust getting it through their heads that they could win,â€ť Ogden said. â€śThey are better than what they really think they are. I think once we can get them to see that, theyâ€™re going to be unstoppable.â€ť
The confidence level seems to be growing according to Ogden. He said the players had positive experience in the teamâ€™s first two scrimmages entering the season.
â€śI think the way the last two scrimmages went, thatâ€™s starting to build it. Weâ€™re starting to see that theyâ€™re putting things together,â€ť Ogden said. â€śThis summer, most of them played on a travel team. They won a few games and that confidence is starting to grow, now they think they can do it. Now, we just got to get them so that they can beat a school like ECC or St. Marys that they havenâ€™t beat in a while and their confidence level is going to be through the roof.â€ť
One concern for the Elkers is the lack of depth on the team. As of Aug. 29, Ridgway had 14 players on the roster.
â€śThatâ€™s scary because last year we had five injuries where we had to put the freshmen in,â€ť Ogden said. â€śWe have five injuries this year, weâ€™re in trouble. The depth scares us. But theyâ€™ve worked hard this summer. Theyâ€™re in better shape than theyâ€™ve ever been in.â€ť
Ogden said he hopes the team has luck on their side to avoid fluke injuries that could hamper the teamâ€™s chances. But entering the opening of the season Friday night, the third-year head coach said this is the best team he will field.
â€śI think of the three years Iâ€™ve been coaching this is the best team,â€ť Ogden said. â€śI think theyâ€™re going to surprise a lot of people.â€ť
Ridgway opens the season at Brockway on Friday night at 7 p.m. Team members for the season are: Justin Kinkead, Chris Persinger, Joe Horning, Matt Bobby, Kyle Jacobs, Josh Braley, Dustin Cowan, Luke Bobby, Ryan McClelland, Greg Paige, Tad Pierce, Kyle Kinkead, Mike Knarr and Jesse Schneider.