Louisa boys’ soccer coach Sergio Botero spent last season laying the groundwork to rebuild the soccer program. This season, he’s hoping to build on that foundation and achieve even more success.
“I want to see [the team] play a better brand of soccer,” he said. “If they do and are having fun doing it, I think the results will take care of themselves.”
The Lions boast a 21-man roster this season, with just over half of that number back from last year. Six of the team’s seven seniors return: Caleb Coleman, Mitch McCotter, Michael Menton, Mark Moyer, Luke Schoenster and Saun Williamson. The seventh, Austin Sims, takes to the field for the first time as a goalie.
The team boasts a large junior class as well, including several returning varsity players and some who moved up from the JV team toward the end of last season, including Hayden MacDougal, Alexander Menton, Ethan Nelson, Ruben Nocoa, Tommy Schultz and Connor Schweikart.
“It’s going to be a lot different this year,” McCotter said. “Last year, Coach [Botero] had to be a little softer on us and had to get to know us and what we can do, but this year he’s harder on us. We’re playing harder and practicing harder and that’s going to show on the field.”
The team also boasts a large number of new faces, including a pair of exchange students who bring a fresh set of skills to the table. Miguel Castells, who made a name for himself as a kicker on the football team last fall, hails from Spain and will play midfield for the Lions. Lukas Straka of Slovakia will be dividing his time between the Lions’ midfield and defense.
“They bring a totally new enthusiasm and a new way of looking at the game,” Botero said. “They really melted right in and are encouraging the other guys to play. I’m very encouraged by that.”
Also new to the varsity team this season is freshman Davis Pruden, who Botero says was “phenomenal” on the JV team as an eighth grader.
“He brings a lot of talent,” he said. “I had my eye on him last year and I liked what I saw.”
For his part, Pruden, who plays midfield, is looking forward to learning from the older players on the team this season.
“I’ve seen them play before and I’m excited to play with them,” he said.
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Andrew Estes, Maddox Miller, Jason Sandoval and Elmerson Velazquez, and freshman Daniel Green, all of whom Botero says bring a lot of enthusiasm for the game.
“I hope to work with them and to bring them into the fold, so they can contribute as much as they can,” he said.
The Lions kick off their season on March 16 with a home game against the Monticello Mustangs. Varsity action begins at 7 p.m.