By Chris Parker
Glendale fell one game short of a final four appearance last year with a 2-1 loss to Republic in the Class 3 quarterfinals. The Falcons finished 22-6 overall.
Glendale loses four first-team all-conference players in Garrett Freeman (forward), Thomas Spence (defender), Mason McDonald (defender) and Gage Patterson (goalkeeper).
“The reason I love coaching high school sports is the fact that these kids grow up in the same neighborhoods and love to compete with and for each other. Last year’s senior class was a great example of that. They enjoyed hanging out together and competing together as Falcons. They set a great tone for the younger boys to follow,” Glendale head coach Jeff Rogers said.
They have a good starting point heading into 2018 with Class 3 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Mitch Stephens returning. The senior is a defender, but he is dangerous on the offensive end as well. He led the Falcons in goals with 20 last season to go with five assists.
“Mitch reads the game well and is a great communicator,” Rogers said. “Most players play in the moment, but he is always thinking ahead of how we can make adjustments on the field to find success. He served as one of our captains as a junior and is well respected by his peers. He is a selfless player and is an old school defender who understands how to shut down passing lanes and build from the back.”
Gannon Patterson returns for his senior season after earning second-team all-conference honors at defender last year. He and Stephens will make the Falcon defense formidable.
“He is a great one on one defender with great speed,” Rogers said. “Gannon will now step into a leadership role with Mitch and anchor our defensive posture against high quality offensive players and teams.”
Seniors Anthony Salerno, Jonathon Dixon and Andy Hanson will also be important to the Falcon defensive structure.
Seniors Ryan Long and Ryan Feeney earned all-conference honors at midfield last year, and will be key pieces again this season.
“RyLo is great with the ball on his foot and will push our offense. He strikes a great ball from either side and is very strong in the air,” Rogers said. “Feeney has great speed on the flanks and will allow us to push our attack. Both received great experience last season against great teams. We will rely on those experiences when games are tight and goals are hard to find.”
Long was third on the team with 12 goals to go with two assists. Feeney led the team with 17 assists and added in seven goals.
Seniors Max Elmer and Shawn Guillot will also be in the mix at midfield.
Juniors Grant Compere and Payton Webb along with senior Drew Blaine will be factors at forward. Isaac Bridges and Kendrick Scott are competing to replace all-state goalkeeper Gage Patterson in goal.
Senior Kameron Clark is recovering from a knee injury. Rogers hopes to have him back by mid to late October.
Expectations are traditionally high for the Falcons, but a 19-player senior class has Glendale poised for a deep playoff run.
“We will field a fast team with size, technical abilities and a good soccer IQ. We will again play a great schedule to prepare ourselves for postseason play,” Rogers said. “This will be the largest senior class I have ever coached and they have had a great offseason is the weight room and summer training. I excited to watch them compete.”
Glendale will host a preseason scrimmage with Kickapoo and Nixa on Aug. 21.