by STEVE BATKO | CORRESPONDENT
Aurora -- The Greenmen boys soccer team reached Ohio's final four in 2012 after losing eight starters and 12 seniors from a 2011 squad that reached the regional semifinals before losing to Mayfield. What can the Greenmen expect this fall?
Entering his 15th year, head coach Chris Gentille returns seven players with starting experience from last year's record-setting club that lost 1-0 in two overtimes in the state semifinals to Sylvania Southview, the eventual state runnerup.
Much of Gentille's defense returns from a squad that posted a school record 13 shutouts and recorded a school record 16-4-2 mark.
In fact, Aurora has won a sectional title 18 of the last 20 years and has reached the district finals in four of the last six years.
"Hopefully, our experience will bode well for us again, but I do know that we will not be able to sneak up on anyone this season," pointed out Gentille, who will also lean on talent from a 15-1 junior varsity program.
"We are not quite where I would like to be," he added near the end of the pre season. "However, I have really high expectations."
Gentille called this year's schedule the strongest in school history.
Aurora had a rematch of last year's Division I regional championship match against Lakewood St. Edward (1-0-1) to open up the season on Aug. 24. Aurora fell 3-2 in a battle at Coughlin Field.
Miraculously, the Greenmen scored on a penalty kick in the 70th minute to tie the game 2-2.
The Eagles came back with a penalty kick opportunity of their own when Timmy Jonas got a step into the 18-yard box and delivered at the 77:06 mark. Senior Braden Davies then scored the PK for the game winner.
Final results of the home opener against Wickliffe on Aug. 27 were not available as of this writing.
In upcoming action, the Greenmen host Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy on Aug. 29 at Veteranís Stadium, travel to Kent Roosevelt on Aug. 31, play at Orange on Sept. 3 and host Brecksville on Sept. 5. All varsity games start at 7 p.m.
Returning senior starters include goalkeeper Justin Pavlick, defenders Ben Lazor and Connor Burns, midfieldersTrevor Wendel and Prayag Jina and forward Dalton Browsky.
Pavlick came on strong last year and helped post the school record 13 shutouts and a goals against average of 1.23.
Wendel, Browsky and Jina are all three-year starters who ignite the offense. Browsky had 15 goals and 15 assists a year ago.
"We have some strong experience back," said Gentille. "Justin gives us leadership in the back along with Lazor, on the right wing and Burns on the opposite side.
"Offensively, our three-year starters give us a huge experience factor and they are well-versed in our system on offense. Browsky is fast and strong and the guys are unselfish."
Gentille would like to win the Chagrin Valley Conference this fall. The Greenmen went 5-0-2 in the CVC a year ago as Hawken won with a 6-0-1 record.
"We are working to improve and we have several positions that we are looking at several kids at," said the mentor.