For the Daily News
---- — Even with the loss of their two top goal scorers, rebuilding isn't seen as the likelihood over at St. Anthony.
Entering the season with 13 underclassman on a 19-man roster, coach Scott Demers, sees the Bulldogs being able to compete.
"I don't ever see it as rebuilding," Demers said. "I have players that are playing in their second year ever of soccer and are starting. Every year you come in and take the best athletes, and develop the skills needed."
Coming off a 9-12-1 season a year ago, St. Anthony will have their work cut out for them after losing Nick Nosbisch and Charlie Schultz to graduation.
Nosbisch led the team with 12 goals last season. Schultz had nine goals, but only played the first three weeks of the season before breaking his femur to end his season.
"This season, we hope we have a team real heavy in defense," Demers said. "Last year, we were really heavy in the front side with Charlie and Nick. They really balanced it out on the offensive side."
St. Anthony will have two contributors on the offensive side from last season in seniors Frank Jansen and Ben Hackman. Both scored eight goals last season. The Bulldogs also return starting goalie Zach Tegeler. Zaine Reiss looks to contribute anywhere on the field.
These four seniors will take the field, possibly along with the team's two juniors in Ben Eskar and Thomas Stephens, but the rest of the starting positions are up for grabs.
Demers isn't going to let the team's young roster obscure the fact that St. Anthony can still win with a young team.
"A lot of these players come to train for basketball or another sport to stay in shape," he said. "The primary sport here is basketball. We know that, but we have some great athletes. We don't have a developmental program like East St. Louis or the Champaign schools.
"They put the time in and develop the skills, and you take the best with what you have. We are very blessed with the athletes that come through."
With the crop they have, the goal for Demers is to develop the players on both the physical side of the game and the mental approach to take on the pitch.
"Our goal is to win every game," Demers said. "They probably won't happen because it's reality. I do want to help develop attitudes, and skills to win on and off the field. If we lose, I want it to be because the team beat us, not because we beat ourselves.
"I always have the goal of making it to the super-sectional. I know it will be a tough season because most (teams) who make it are predominately seniors, and we are a young team."
There are also goals off the field players will live up to.
"We started the winning legacy in 2010," said Demers. "Prior to last year's losing season, the team focused on winning individually. Each player had challenges they wanted to overcome, and they worked on it throughout the season.
"We also want 100% academic eligibility. We have achieved that two straight years now."
St. Anthony takes to the field for the first time Monday, hosting Harrisburg in both team's season openers.
Seniors: Zach Tegeler, Ben Hakman, Frank Jansen, Zaine Reiss
Juniors: Ben Esker, Thomas Stephens
Sophmores: Kyle Hartke, Chandler Martelli, Ian Harris, James Kabbes, Alex Bloemer
Freshmen: Zoe Donovan, Donovan Hammer, Ryan Krueger, Andy Saba, Jon Blanchette, Jackson Willenborg, Mason Thomas, Ty Kinkelaar