Defending soccer champs reload for new campaign (Aug. 28, 2008)

Aug. 28, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team opens its quest for a seventh straight state Division I crown on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 at Burlington High, and as one rival coach said recently, the Redhawks “do not rebuild each year, they just reload.”


          File photo by Greg Duggan
Champlain Valley Union High sophomore Tino Tomasi controls the ball during a playoff game against South Burlington High last year. Tomasi moves to the midfield this year for the Redhawks.


Third year coach T.J. Mead noted this weekend that despite the loss of 13 players by graduation from last year’s championship team, “things are looking pretty good,” adding angst to rival coaches’ outlooks for the upcoming autumn clashes.

“We have a young squad, but it is a hardworking one,” Mead said of his 22-player unit. “A majority on the team have not won a title so they have something to work toward.”

Mead’s philosophy is to build teams from the back (defense) to the front (attack), and this year will be no different.

Led by juniors Chris Beaton and Andrew Blake, Mead considers his back line, “pretty strong.”

“We are probably not going to be scoring a lot of goals,” Mead said. “We’ll be in a lot of scoreless or 1-0 games.”

Sophomore Tino Tomasi, whose quickness was an offensive weapon last year despite a mid-season injury, has been moved to midfield “so we can take better advantage of his great vision and playmaking.”

As for the scoring, Mead believes the points will spread around, with no one individual racking up the goals.

“We have some young talent coming in,” he said, pointing to six sophomores up from last season’s undefeated freshman team, and a freshman.

Competing for the goaltending job held for three years by the graduated All-State choice Andreas Varsakopoulos are senior Chris Howard and junior John Milbank.

“They are pushing each other hard,” Mead said.

After the opener in the Queen City, the Redhawks travel to Hartford High on Wednesday before their home opener on Friday, Sept. 5 against Missisquoi Valley Union High.