Northern Lebanon boys soccer preview
Coach: Mark Hubbard, first season
Last year's record: 1-15-1
Key returners: Ben Rathmell, MF; Kody Ream, MF; Henry Hubbard, MF; Brandon Miller, F; Dylan Adams, F; Chris Taylor, D; Eric Herb, D; Dylan Houser.
Promising Newcomers: Dennison Guardavo, Rodrigo Urreta.
Outlook: The Vikings are getting a makeover.
Under the direction of new head coach Mark Hubbard, last year an assistant, Northern Lebanon has extended its reach to the school district's youth clubs, added another formation, and shifted player positions. Yet with all this change, there's also been an air of repetition about the team's preseason.
“For us, it’s try to turn things back down to basics. It’s taking back down to where they need to be," said Hubbard, who coached for a decade in his native England. "We’re trying to set a new atmosphere, precedent for younger players coming in that this is how it’s going to be.”
Hubbard first priority is to generate more goals for the Vikings, who were shut out in their final nine contests of 2015. Not only have some returning varsity contributors been moved up from their back-line positions, but a Mexican exchange student, Rodrigo Urreta, will be free to attack and make an impact as well.
“We’re just trying to play a slightly more aggressive type game. We have a couple of new guys up front that were able to get the ball up and have more opportunities," Hubbard said. “Our midfield’s pretty good. And up front I think we’re going to be pretty dangerous, quick and skillful."
Of course, the coach's challenge is not collecting pieces but putting them together. Hence all the time the Vikings have put in off the field, including at team barbecues, stressing teamwork
“This year we’re really trying to focus on support," Hubbard said. "We’re really trying to emphasize teamwork. For us I think the chemistry and building as a team is going to help us these next couple of years. I really do."