By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Success is a tradition for Glendale boys’ soccer. Most recently, that included a trip to the Class 3 semifinals and a third-place finish in 2018.
The Class of 2019 – the largest group in program history – played a key role in the Falcons’ recent success, leading the team to four of its seven-straight district titles.
“We felt like we were a final four team, and obviously, would have liked to put ourselves in the championship match,” said head coach Jeff Rogers, who surpassed 500 victories with the boys’ program during the 2018 season. “We were able to finish third in state play and that adds to our proud tradition.”
Glendale finished 20-8-1 overall, 9-0 (first place) in the Ozark Conference and made its deepest run in the postseason since reaching the Class 3 championship game in 2014.
The Falcons first are faced with the task of moving ahead without the highly decorated seniors of 2019, led by Mitch Stephens.
Stephens, one of the area’s most dynamic players during his career, was a Class 3 All-State Honorable Mention selection as a defender, as well as being named to the Class 3 All-Southwest/Central Region, All-District 10 First-Team and All-Ozark Conference First-Team in 2018.
“Mitch Stephens graduated early (December) to have a spring training with his college program at Grand Canyon University (NCAA-1),” said Rogers, who is 516-178-33 with the Glendale boys and a combined 904-347-70 (boys and girls), as well as the region and O.C. coach of the year.
“Mitch’s high school career ended early with an injury, but he and the other seniors’ impact was huge in 2018. Our entire defense was senior-led and they represented 68 percent of our offense.”
Other key losses include: Gannon Patterson, Ryan Long, Ryan Feeney, Max Elmer, Kendrick Scott, Andy Hansen, Shawn Guillot, Drew Blaine and Anthony Salerno.
• Gannon Patterson, a defender, was second-team all-state, region, district and conference defensive player of the year and all-conference first team.
• Ryan Long – forward – first-team all-district and all-conference honorable mention.
• Ryan Feeney – midfielder – second-team all-state, all-region, first-team all-district and second-team all-conference.
• Max Elmer – midfielder – first-team all-state, region co-offensive player of the year, district offensive player of the year and second-team all-conference.
• Kendrick Scott – goalkeeper – district goalkeeper of the year and O.C. honorable mention.
• Andy Hansen – defender – second-team all-district and O.C. honorable mention.
• Shawn Guillot – midfielder – second-team all-district and O.C. second-team.
• Drew Blaine – forward – second-team all-district.
• Anthony Salerno – defender – second-team all-district and honorable mention all-conference.
The Falcons have one returning starter in senior Grant Compere. Compere was a first-team all-state selection, the region player of the year, first-team all-district and the Ozark Conference player of the year.
“Grant played a key role in our offense and led the team in assists with 21,” Rogers said. “He is a great vision player and creates scoring opportunities for teammates.”
Compere will be joined by fellow senior Payton Webb, who had five goals and four assists as a junior.
To fill in the gaps, Rogers also will be looking to his junior varsity squad.
“We will be basically taking our JV from last year and asking them to be competitive at a varsity level right away,” Rogers said. “We typically have the advantage of allowing this group another year to develop, but when you graduate 18 and bring back two seniors, our little ones will need to grow up quickly.”
The Falcons will get things started with a jamboree at Kickapoo with the Chiefs and Nixa before traveling to St. Louis to open the season with St. Louis University High and Webster Groves (a 4-0 winner over Glendale in the Class 3 semifinals) on Aug. 30-31.
“We will have good speed all over the field and will need that to be dangerous against more experienced teams,” Rogers said. “We will need to be committed to the process and understand we use September and October to prepare for postseason.”