Oak Ridge ready for second go in Delta River League

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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Last season, the Oak Ridge High soccer team got a taste of what Division I competition is like. The Trojans learned some hard lessons in the Delta River League but came away with the experience and toughness that has Coach Henry Reis optimistic about carrying over into 2011. After spending years in the Sierra Valley Conference, the Trojans finished their first DRL campaign with their first sub-.500 league record since 2006. Their 3-4-1 mark was good for third place behind nationally ranked Jesuit and Pleasant Grove. Oak Ridge had its first two games of the 2011 preseason on Tuesday and Wednesday at Liberty Ranch and Bella Vista, respectively. At Liberty Ranch, the Trojans received goals from a pair of sophomores in Eli Remy and Ryan Chung before the Hawks came back to tie the game at two. The score remained knotted the rest of the way. At Bella Vista, the Trojans did not fare as well after being shutout by the Broncos, 4-0, leaving them with an early season record of 0-1-1. “We have a long preseason but I think we’re pretty much right on track,” said Reis after the team’s opening games. “Everybody’s excited and ready to go but league is most important to us.” Reis’ squad features 11 returning seniors from a year ago, including strikers Roger Blum, CJ Hoversten, Lee Barclay and Ben Schowengerdt and goalie David Item. The lone returning junior is Kevin Hansen. “Our midfield and goalkeeping will be very strong this year,” said Reis. “We have a lot of guys coming back from last season along with a few newcomers that will be able to contribute a lot.” Reis said he expects the experience that the Trojans earned a year ago at the D-I level to pay off heading into this season. “The (DRL) will be strong, if not stronger than last year but I expect us to be right in the middle of it,” he said. “This year’s team is very focused and a little more relaxed. Going into D-I, they didn’t know what to expect. The biggest difference from last year is that we know how to really prepare for games this year.” Oak Ridge will be tested in its next game when the Trojans travel to Granite Bay on Wednesday to take on the Grizzlies—who are slated No. 6 on ESPN Rise’s list of top national teams.