The pieces are all there for an exciting season for the Aberdeen Central boys’ soccer squad.
The Golden Eagles, who are rated second in the Class AA pre-season poll, return many key members from a year ago.
“We pretty much return the whole young crew from last year that really had a growing up season,” said Central coach Steve Cogley. “Having that corps nucleus, particularly for me in the middle of the field, is pretty important.”
The Eagles will be led by four seniors this fall: Jelani Peters, Jameson Palmer, Trey Hedges and Zeezroom Mounga.
Central, which returns eight of 11 starters in all, will have experience in the middle of the field with Isaac Haugen, Serou Gogue and Denon Deuter all returning. Cogley also pointed out Marcos Ramos Garcia.
“We have a pretty strong 11. It’s our depth that I’m worried about,” Cogley said. “Our front six, they’ve gotten, bigger, stronger, faster. Their creativity and their technical ability allows us something I haven’t had since probably 2016.”
For those who may not recall, that squad was one for the ages, outscoring its opponents by an unbelievable total of 80-2.
While Cogley knows there may never be another team that produces those kind of numbers, he is excited about his current group.
“That was a really strong defensive team that could score when they really got into a rhythm, but they were kind of streaky,” he noted. “This team is much more creative up front. Those front six are very dynamic, They’re very fast.”
That could make for some high-scoring contests on the pitch, but again, Cogley will do his best to develop some depth on the squad.
“I’m very concerned about our depth. After that first probably 11 or 12, we’re really inexperienced,” he said. “For us it’s going to be developing depth down the road. We just go in steps. I just kind of know what steps we have to be at to be ready by October.”
There is no denying that fact. Central is always in the mix when it comes to potential state champions and the Eagles have played in their share of title games in the past decade.
“The tradition that we’ve been blessed with goes back a lot of years,” Cogley said, noting that some of this year’s members were associated with some of those squads. “Now a chunk of them have been a part of that.”
The players understand that they are a bit of a measuring stick for opponents meaning they have to bring their best effort each time out.
“They’re very aware every single game is a lot of times the other team’s Super Bowl,” Cogley said. “They know that they’re going to get everybody’s best game every time we step on the field.”
That means Central will be tested right out of the gate when the Eagles open their season on Friday at Spearfish. Cogley noted that Spearfish went undefeated during the regular season last year.
“Our very first game is against a team that returns everyone, too,” Cogley said. “Spearfish is a very good team.”
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