By Brock Sisney (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
WEBB CITY — Despite the graduation of several key players from a district runner-up squad last season, the Webb City Cardinals return 13 varsity contributors, including seven starters, and that group numbers 10 seniors to form a veteran core.
Webb City’s returning seniors are Gustavo Sabbag, Ignatius Mathenge, Daniel Solas, David Aguilar, Noah Mitchell, Gavin Daggett, Jackson Dill, Caleb Cook, and Quentin Black. The other varsity returners are junior Tristan Barroeta and sophomores Alex Flores and Felipe Perez.
Head coach Nick Harmon enters his fourth season at the helm of the Cardinals and they have finished district runner-up three straight years to their conference and district rival Neosho with their last two district title game losses coming by a single goal. The Cardinals pieced together a 17-10 record last season and with all that experience and success, hopes are high for Webb City boys soccer in 2020.
”We have 10 returning seniors who have been with the program at least more than one season,” Harmon said. “They have always had vocal seniors leading the team in previous years as underclassmen, so it will be interesting to see who emerges as leaders of this group and what sort of leadership style they adopt as their own.
”We will be a physically stronger team than last year than we have been in the past because we’ll have so many senior players. Many of our boys have grown up playing together for years, so there is a lot of camaraderie as well.
“Keys to success this year will be trusting our teammates and trusting the process. The team goals are always to win as many games as we can, finish as high in the conference standings as we can, and make a postseason run. That being said, we are focused on doing the little things correctly. It’s a long season, so we’re going to take it one day at a time. If we can do the little things right each day then the results we want will come.”
District MVP and all-Central Ozark Conference first team selection Landon Black, all-region and all-COC forward Jake Bundy, and goalkeeper Alex Gooch rank among the key players who graduated, but Aguilar, Mathenge, and Barroeta each picked up postseason recognition last year. Competition in practice will not be a problem for the Cardinals, and that normally bodes well for the overall success of any team in any sport.
“We have a very exciting young group of players this year,” Harmon said. “There are a few freshmen who have the potential to crack the varsity lineup, as well as a few sophomores and juniors who have been on the cusp the last couple seasons. Regardless of who emerges, it will make competition for minutes exciting this year.”
Webb City opens its season Sept. 1 at home against COC rival Willard.