Aurora -- A youth movement saw plenty of off season work for the Aurora High School boys soccer program.
It is a Greenmen program that lost nine seniors to graduation and 22 senior athletes in the past two years under head coach Chris Gentille, who will look for a 14th straight sectional title this season after going 11-3-4 overall last year and reaching the district semifinals in Division I.
Gentille wanted a bigger finish after Aurora reached the Ohio Final 4 in 2012 with a school record mark of 16-4-2. However, the school faced its toughest schedule in history in 2013.
"We are extremely young this season," said Gentille, who enters his 16th year as coach.
But the Greenmen showed promise Aug. 23 in winning their season opening match, 9-0, over Cortland Lakeview.
AHS has lost nine seniors, including seven starters and a trio of three-year starters in forward Dalton Browsky, midfielder Trevor Wendel and midfielder Prayag Jina. Other losses were record-setting goalkeeper Justin Pavlick and defenders Connor Burns and Ben Lazor.
Last year's senior class had a career mark of 56-12-12 and was 23-3-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference's Chagrin Division.
Browsky, who scored 14 goals, made second team all-Greater Cleveland and was a first-team all-CVC selection, as was Pavlick, who also was honorable mention all-district.
JINA AND WENDEL were also honorable mention all-Greater Cleveland and made second-team all-CVC. Burns was honorable mention all-CVC.
One of the big off-season notes was a strong showing in late July's Adidas National Showcase tournament in Strongsville.
"Our talent should be good, but 14 of our 22 players have never played a varsity match," pointed out Gentille, who will lean on several athletes from a 13-2 junior varsity team.
Heading the list of returnees is senior Nick Perez, who made second-team all-Ohio. He can play midfield and striker, but mostly will play forward. He is a big offensive threat who made first-team all-CVC and first-team all-Greater Cleveland.
Last year, Perez tied Browsky for scoring honors, with each player having 14 goals, six assists and 34 points.
Senior center midfielder Anthony Brockway is back after he made second-team all-CVC and was honorable mention all-Greater Cleveland pick. He had 12 points and five goals to go with 19 steals.
Another superb senior returns in Tyler Finkenthal, who was honorable mention all-CVC. He will be the center back. Matt Gordon, a junior, saw some action in the net last year when Pavlick rested. Gordon had one shutout and didn't allow a goal.
Gordon and promising sophomore Joe Brockway will be used in the keeper spot.
"Our strong nucleus is led by Perez, Anthony Brockway and Finkenthal,"said Gentille. "We are just looking for consistency."
More experience comes from junior midfielder Jake Martell and junior forward Justin Kowalski, while junior Michael Carbone is a wing midfielder and junior newcomers Dominic Roberto and Oliver Hesmondhalgh will start on the defense.
MIDFIELDER Anton Krondorfer is a 6-foot-3 junior who got some experience last year with junior Cory Bianco, who is joined in the back by returning senior Rob Lacey and senior Sean Atwood.
Promising sophomore Bryce Posner will see plenty of action in the midfield this fall, according to Gentille.
Other seniors include Tyler Blenchschmid (defender), Payton Picone (midfield/halfback) and John Doyle (defender), while sophomore Dominec Hesmondhalgh will help as a midfielder.
Perez had two goals and one assist to pace the offense in the opening win, but the match was more about the defense posting a shutout behind Gordon (two saves) and Joe Brockway (three).
Other goals were scored by Anthony Brockway, Kowalski, Carbone, Krondorfer and Martell, who each also added an assist. Posner had a goal and a feed, junior Jarett Mazanec had a goal, and junior Cole Stephan and Hesmondhalgh (one steal each) and sophomore Joe Hauman (one assist) also contributed.
"The league is always a two or three-dog race in the Chagrin Division," said Gentille. "It is one of the more competitive leagues around," sddfing Chagrin Falls and Kenston appear to be the chief challengers this season.
In upcoming action, Aurora will host Solon Aug. 30 and Orange on Sept. 2. All games start at 7 p.m. Final results of the Aug. 26 game at Wickliffe were not available as of this writing.