(Aug. 30, 2019) The Stephen Decatur boys’ soccer team graduated 10, which included several role players, but on the plus side, eight of the 11 who were starters last year are returning for the 2019 season.
“I think our strength is in our experience, because having eight of the 11 back is really helpful,” said Coach Jamie Greenwood. “They know the system, they know my expectations. They all play at a high level now and that will benefit us.
“We also have strong leadership,” he added. “They can help the younger guys now more than ever.”
Greenwood, now in his 13th season as head coach, said the 20 players on his roster are very coachable. The coaching staff has implemented some new things – including a different formation – and the Seahawks are responding well.
Greenwood plans to go with a lineup of four defenders, three midfielders and three players up top this season, as opposed to playing with two forwards, and four in both the midfield and on defense.
“They’ve worked hard to embrace it,” he said. “They know the coaching staff has their best interest in mind. They’re buying into the system.”
Greenwood said the boys have performed on the field, moving and passing well.
“We have some depth, which helps us,” he said.
He will rely on senior John Karacoulakis to produce on offense again this year. Karacoulakis led the team in goals with 11 last season. He also had seven assists.
Greenwood moved Karacoulakis, a two-year starting defender, out of the back and up to the forward line after the second game of the season last year to generate more offense.
He earned a spot on the Bayside South First Team for his performance.
Karacoulakis hopes to lead the offensive charge again this season.
“I’m just going to make it a wrestling match up top,” he said, confident he will come out on the winning end over other teams’ defenses. “[The key is] scoring goals and not letting them score.”
“I think we got kids out here who want to play and everybody’s working hard. I think we’re going to do pretty good,” he said.
Karacoulakis, a four-year varsity team member, said he will use his experience to help the new players.
Returning in the midfield is sophomore James Barrett, who was presented Bayside South Honorable Mention accolades for his performance last season. He will help run the midfield in the center.
Senior Drew Haueisen received First Team Defense honors last year, and junior defender Evan Kinsey earned honorable mention distinction.
“I’ll definitely count on those four. That’s our anchor right down the middle,” Greenwood said. “They’re the backbone of the team and they have the most experience.”
Senior Hunter Wolf was also presented honorable mention accolades on the defensive end.
“To lead this team I think I just need to keep everyone’s mindset on winning and on playing soccer and working hard and not letting outside things affect our team,” Wolf, a two-year varsity player, said. “We have a lot of skill, we have a lot of room for development and as the season progresses I think we’ll get a lot better.”
Greenwood will look to newcomers, Eric Berry, a junior midfielder, and sophomore forward, Miguel Cervantes, to contribute.
After finishing with an 8-4-1 record last year and bowing out of the playoffs in the second round, Greenwood said the players are eyeing championship titles this season.
Winning the Bayside Conference championship is an attainable goal, he said.
“We have the potential. I feel we’re that good to win the conference,” Greenwood said. “They really want to win a state championship.”
Greenwood said the Seahawks have the capability and the tools to be successful.
“We just have to show up and play all 12 games,” he said. “[Then], make a run in the playoffs and contend for a state championship.”
Greenwood and his players are “super excited” to play on the school’s new turf field inside the stadium. The field, Greenwood said, is about 15 yards wider and 15 yards longer then the pervious one. Nine of the 12 games the Seahawks play this year will be on turf fields (six at home and three on the road).
“It should play in our favor,” he said. “It’s fast and it’s big.”
Decatur’s first game is Monday, Sept. 9 against the North Caroline Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m. in Berlin.