By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Experience and health will be vital for a Carthage soccer team coming off a 12-10 season.
“Like anybody, it (COVID-19) has impacted us,” Tigers 12th-year head coach Jacob Osborne said. “Our attendance has been down. This is easily the lowest attendance I have ever had over the summer. I have never had a summer compared to it. Lots of question marks, but there are a lot of question marks with a lot of things right now.”
The team graduated seven players off last year’s roster, but the Tigers field a plethora of upperclassmen (13).
However, putting a concrete number on the starters is a tough task, Osborne said, as the team sustained injury after injury.
A total of 27 players suited up at least once to fill the necessary voids last fall.
“I had never seen anything like that before,” said Osborne. “As far as starters go, I guess about eight returning (starters).”
One All-COC player makes his return this fall — and looks to anchor the offensive attack.
Added Osborne: “Adrian Garrido is going to be one of the top players in the area. He had a really good season last year, but he’s looked really good this summer. I think his level of play has taken a nice jump.
Garrido tallied 17 goals and 8 assists last season as a sophomore.
While the injuries mounted up last year, the experience should yield added wins this season.
The Tigers sustained a vast array of injuries last year, from ACLs, to ankles, to a collarbone.
Defensively, with loss of the 2020 graduates who comprised the defensive core, one player continues his ascent, and Osborne expects big things from Lester Mejia Cancinos.
Said Osborne: “[He] had to play a big role in our defense last season, and I look for him to be a really important piece this year. He’s a smart defender and reads the game really well.”
The Tigers — with the returning core this season — look to make waves throughout the Central Ozark Conference.
“I am optimistic,” said Osborne. “I am happy with the kids we have coming back.
The midfield attack hasn’t changed much, the veteran coach said.
“It is almost identical to where we were. We didn’t lose anybody,” said Osborne.
Returning to the box this fall is senior Angel Ordonez — who takes over the full-time role.
Newcomers via moves-in include Marco Valdez (Mexico) and George Latham — a 6’2” sophomore (DF/MF) from Taiwan.
Head coach: Jacob Osborne (enters 12th year in the blue and white).
Record in 2019: 12-10
Players lost: 7
Players to watch in ’20: Adrian Garrido (junior; 2019 1st-Team All-Conference); Lester Mejia Cancinos (defender).