By Chris Parker
West Plains made it to the Class 3 District 10 Championship game last year before falling 9-0 to Glendale to finish the season with a 9-12 record. It was an encouraging start for coach Justin Frazier in his first season leading the program after six years as an assistant.
The Zizzers have a solid core of players returning from that team led by three all-conference selections.
Forward Seth Stiles leads the group after earning first-team all-conference honors as a forward thanks to his 15-goal, seven-assist season.
“Seth has great footwork with the ball and is not afraid to take on any defender,” Frazier said. “I expect him to be a leader for us this season in goals and to possibly challenge some of the single-season scoring records in Zizzer history.”
Daegen Green and Nate Thomas are two sophomores that will join Stiles at forward.
In the midfield, Irvin Barazza and Tyler Ford return coming off of second-team all-conference honors. Barazza found the back of the net 11 times and added in eight assists. Ford had eight goals and 11 assists.
“Having Irvin and Tyler as anchors in the midfield allow us to move people around and fill in gaps where we need to,” Frazier said. “They are both skilled playmakers that will look to set up a teammate for a scoring opportunity and have a tremendous game IQ.”
Minh Dinh and Philip Sheridan will join Barazza and Ford in the midfield on the outside.
Zerek Johnson returns for his senior season at goalkeeper after earning all-district honors last season. The unit in front of Johnson will have some holes to fill after graduating three of the four defenders from last year’s team.
Tommy Keller and Jakoby Hansmann are both juniors who will be asked to spend time in the back. Keller scored seven goals and contributed two assists last year on his way to an honorable mention all-conference selection.
“They (Keller & Hansmann) are great midfield players, but both can lock down players on the defensive side as well as playing up,” Frazier said.
Senior Zevi Whittingham and junior Kadi McGoldrick will round out the defense.
The offense may have to carry the defense early on as the backline gels together.
“We didn’t lose much on the offensive side of the ball from last year, so I believe we should be able to score plenty of goals. Defensively, we are going to have to work hard after losing so many players, but I think we should be competitive against any team on our schedule this year and hope to surprise a few in the postseason,” Frazier said.
West Plains opens the season on Aug. 24 in the Lebanon/Marshfield Tournament.