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Striker search is on at FZ West

Striker search is on at FZ West

Jaguars unsure where goals will come from


Sean Baldwin hopes his Fort Zumwalt West boys soccer team learned a thing or two from its strong finish to the 2009 season.

The Jaguars (13-9-3 overall, 5-1 Gateway Athletic Conference South) won seven of their last nine games overall and shared a conference championship with Francis Howell North.

But one of those losses stung more than the others: a 2-1 overtime loss in districts to another GAC South school, Francis Howell.

"I thought it was one of the best games we had played all year long," Baldwin said. "I think we played our game, had the majority of the possession and had a lot of chances on goal. (In overtime) a Francis Howell player hit a shot that took a weird bounce and found the back of the net. It was an unfortunate way to end the season but I couldn't be happier with how the guys played and worked."

The graduation of Dylan Carter brings forth a big change to the team, as the Jaguars have nobody returning to the striker position. Carter logged 14 goals there last year, including a conference-high seven game-winning goals, and finished tied for the league lead with 12 assists.

His younger brother, Trevor, hopes to become a big contributor up top. Baldwin says Carter plays a different brand of soccer than did his older brother but has an equally strong nose for the goal. Others battling for time as forwards are senior Jake Wascisin, junior Tyler Diederich and sophomore Alex Klausen.

"As a group they all work really hard and I expect them to improve as the season goes on," Baldwin said. "They want to be successful as a team and want the chance to put their own stamp on our program."

The Jaguars remain solid at goalkeeper with Colin Nichols returning for his fourth year of varsity soccer. Goalie duties were split three ways last year with Nichols logging the bulk of minutes. He should do so again this season although junior Chris Becks will also compete for playing time.

With three years of varsity experience apiece, seniors Brian Newton and Jake Rocco make up perhaps the team's strongest facet at midfield. Staying healthy will be Newton's top concern as he has been slowed by injuries the last two years, and Rocco has the makings of a versatile option out of the center-midfield position.

In addition to having experience, depth also makes Zumwalt West's midfield a formidable group which includes seniors Rick Cincenc and Jarod Hahn, and juniors Steven Beckham, Jeremy Harrington and Collin Luetkemeyer.

Juniors Zach Hollstrom and Andrew Lightner return more experience to the Jaguars' defense. Senior Eric Biernbaum will also figure into the backfield mix, as will sophomores Mitch Morris and Steve Kline.

While the Jaguars return experience to many areas of the field, the forward position remains is their biggest uncertainty.

"In my nine years here this is the first time we'll go into season without knowing who our definitive goal scorer will be," Baldwin said. "We'll look to get the whole team involved in the attack and hopefully we can have a number of guys get a handful of goals. We have a lot of experience returning in the midfield and in the backfield and I think those areas should be solid. We're hoping we can play well again in conference and get a better start than we had last year."

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