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Elco boys soccer preview


Coach: Kirk Keppley, fifth season

Last year's record: 12-8

Key returners: Evan Gettler, Sr., MF; Justin Kimmet, Sr., F; Matt Berger, Sr., GK; Alex Puglio, Sr., MF; Collin Hershey, Sr., D; Adam Omar, Sr., D; Joe Ginder, Jr., D; Seth Noll, Jr., MF; Clay Hain, Jr., MF; Mason Bennetch, Soph., F.

Promising newcomers: Greg Onisa, Jr., F; Adler Brown, Jr., MF/F; Chase Peiffer, Jr., D; Justin Kegerise, Jr., D; Wyatt Drenning, Jr., D; Jake Swanger, Jr., D; Ben Fisher, Jr., F; David Stamm, Sr., D; Logan Royer, Sr., D.

Outlook: The season's forecast calls for more of the same. And for a program that's seen one losing season since the Bush administration, could Elco ask for anything more?

The Raiders enter 2016 with a heartbreaking districts finish in their rear view and an experienced, blue-collar group ready to roll. Per usual this fall, they're going to score, defend and employ their physical style along the way.

"They're like our typical kids from the past. They're not going to back down," Elco coach Kirk Keppley said. "They go in hard, have skill and they're nothing to give up. And we have a good mix of juniors and seniors."

That upperclassmen group litters the starting lineup from front to back, featuring a handful of three-year starters. In fact, there's essentially only room for sophomore Mason Bennetch, an offensive weapon all over the pitch, to see the field at opening kickoff. Justin Kimmet and Clay Hain will also work up top for the Raiders, with senior attacking mids Evan Gettler and Alex Puglio not far behind.

"They read the game well," said Keppley of his senior mids. "Both work very hard."

Considering that collective experience and talent, the aim of district and league playoffs remains the same. However this year just two schools from Section Three make the L-L tournament and only a pair will emerge from the 2A district bracket to the state playoffs. And both will require dealing with a loaded Lancaster Mennonite squad.

"They're the one everybody's aiming for," Keppley said of the Blazers. "Expect them to be at the top."