By Chris Parker
Hillcrest soccer returned to the varsity soccer field last year after not fielding a team in 2020. The Hornets finished 0-17 overall, but will look for much more this year with 10 starters returning.
Seniors Zao Shatto and Isaac Hann will be team leaders.
“Seniors Zao Shatto and Isaac Hann will be looked upon to give direction to a young unit this fall,” Hillcrest head coach Roy Hardy said. “They both display an excellent mental toughness (ability to stay focused, determination, competitive spirit) and team oriented which is key in retaining players from year to year. They are just fun to be around.”
Hann is the team’s goalkeeper. He earned first-team all-conference honors after he recorded 165 saves. Shatto will be a forward. He was honorable mention all-conference last year after he scored one goal and assisted on two others.
Shatto will be joined up top by fellow honorable mention all-conference selection Tanner Hicks. Hicks scored two goals as a freshman to lead the team.
Junior Bradlee Moore along with sophomores Levi Romero, Austin Miller and Leonidas Guavis will play in the midfield.
Senior Addison Jackson, junior Brennan Oberhansly and sophomore Levi Smith will be Hillcrest’s defenders.
One of the biggest differences for this year’s Hillcrest soccer team isn’t necessarily about the players on the field, but the facilities in which they call home.
“The biggest strength for our team this fall is our newly made over campus,” Hardy said. “With improved locker rooms, classroom amenities, and upgrades all throughout the building, our student body has grown into a more cohesive family unit; which also allows us to attract new students to the north side hill. The HHS pride is displayed through community, friendships, and school spirit.”
On the field, Hardy will be looking for improvement across the board with his 10 returning starters.
“The areas we must improve on desperately are communicating, improving the percentage of time of possession, decreasing the time when the ball is in our defensive third, and getting into the offensive third to get and take shots,” Hardy said.
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Hillcrest will travel to Willard for a jamboree on Aug. 22. The Hornets open the regular season on Aug. 30 at home against Kickapoo.
“My overall expectation for this team this fall is to be a team of oneness, being competitive not only in games but practices as well, being coachable, and seeing their passion and love for the sport grow with the proper mindset,” Hardy said. “Pele said it best: ‘success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.’”