by Larry Austin
Grand Island boys soccer coach Frank Butcher is optimistic that this year's edition of the Vikings will improve on last year's results.
Butcher said the team is bolstered this year by a potent mix of returning players and junior varsity talent.
"Definitely, I think we're going to improve a ton this year. We had an undefeated JV team last year, so the guys coming up I think are going to be a big step up in the depth department. Overall, we'll be a much stronger team," Butcher said.
The team is "really strong in the back," Butcher said, and he's waiting to see if the players rising to the varsity level can produce offensively as they have in the past.
"We'll see if they can repeat their success on the varsity level, but I'm hopeful so far from what I've seen at practice," Butcher said, citing as evidence a strong work ethic he's seen in the two weeks of practice.
"I've been really impressed by the maturity level, and a real businesslike attitude on our team," he said.
Butcher has 22 players on the roster. The Vikings lost to graduation Dominic Morell, Eric Colon and Alex Ahne from a team that finished with a record of 4-12-2 on the year.
GI will play Williamsville North at 1 p.m. on Friday, and Frontier at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Coaches vs. Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge at Sweet Home.
Butcher hopes to win both games, but will be satisfied "as long as we put two solid efforts together and really figure out who goes where heading into league play."
Part of the who-goes-where question involves whether to put senior Jake Dixon, a leading scorer from last year, at the top of the attack or in a central midfield position. The decision involves determining if a younger player can hold center-midfield down, Butcher said.
"That's really my biggest question right now. Every other position I seem really solid at, I'm just not totally sure about center-midfield," Butcher said.