Who are some of the top area boys soccer players to watch heading into this season? Find our top eight below.
This list also appears in the O-Zone Fall Preview Magazine featuring more names. The magazine is available at all area Casey’s General Stores. CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST OF ADVERTISER LOCATIONS WHERE THE MAGAZINE IS AVAILABLE.
*This list is in alphabetical order.
Hunter Daniels, Nixa, Senior
Hunter Daniels returns as one of the area’s top strikers coming off a Class 4 second-team all-state selection as a junior. He put 17 goals and 15 assists away for the Eagles, who finished 16-9 last season.
Jacob Demerest, Catholic, Senior
Demerest will key the backline for Catholic this year coming off a strong junior season. He earned Class 2 second-team all-state honors. In addition, he was named the Class 2 Southwest-Central Defensive Player of the Year.
Jarrett Gabriele, Rolla, Senior
Rolla graduated a strong defensive group last year, so the Bulldogs will have to rely on a strong offense. Gabriele will be a key piece of that offense coming off a 25-goal, 12-assist season. He was named to the all-region team. He had a hand in 40 percent of Rolla’s goals last year.
Jacob Holman, Kickapoo, Senior
Kickapoo made a strong run in the playoffs last year thanks in large part to Holman’s work in the goal. He allowed one goal or less in three of Kickapoo’s four games in its run through district play to the final four. He earned second-team all-state honors and was named the region keeper of the year.
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Alex Leonard, Republic, Senior
Republic used Dylan Brown’s scoring and a strong defense to advance to the program’s first final four. Brown is gone, but much of that strong defense remains. Leonard was a second-team all-state defender. He had two assists and 342 steals last year.
Jason Puente, Monett, Senior
The best pure scorer in southwest Missouri for the last several years has been Jason Puente. The first-team all-state forward and Class 2 Offensive Player of the Year scored 48 goals last season to give him 136 for his career, which puts him tied for No. 5 on Missouri’s all-time list. The record is 182 goals.
Lawson Spence, Ozark, Senior
Spence was a first-team all-conference and Class 4 Southwest-Central All-Region forward last year as a junior. He was one of the area’s top scorers with 26 goals on the season to go with seven assists. He either scored or assisted on 46 percent of Ozark’s goals last year.
Mitch Stephens, Glendale, Senior
Stephens is the area’s most dynamic defender. He earned first-team all-state honors and was named the region defensive player of the year. He was an offensive force for the Falcons as well posting 20 goals and five assists.