Trojan soccer team ready for new league

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity soccer team is back and ready to do battle at the Division I level after a string of successful seasons playing in the Sierra Valley Conference. The Trojans, along with archrival Ponderosa, moved to the Delta River League this season, joining the ranks with Folsom, Jesuit, Pleasant Grove and Sheldon in what should be a competitive Division I league. Oak Ridge returns senior forward Kyran Bennett, the team’s leading goal scorer from last year, who put 10 balls in the back of the net. Center midfielder Lee Barclay is also returning, as are outside half Kyle Dickinson and defenders Austin Emmett and Ben Schowengerdt, among a few others. Top newcomers, according to coach Henry Reis, are juniors Kevin Uhrik and Kevin Hanson, while junior David Item is the team’s goalkeeper. Reis said Uhrik can play anywhere, but is currently playing defense, while Hanson is a defender/midfielder. If the Trojans are to improve on last year’s 11-7-3 record, these players will have to lead the way. While Oak Ridge’s record last year wasn’t that impressive, the team played well when it meant the most, as they defeated McClatchy and Granite Bay in the playoffs to reach the Division II section championship game where they lost to Rocklin. “I think going to the Delta River League is a good change for us,” Reis said. “I think it will be more competitive, to a degree, and there will be less travel. They also take three teams to the playoffs. “This year’s team is a little more relaxed and there’s more of a team atmosphere compared to last year, which is a good thing. They’re eager to learn.” Reis said the team has the potential to have a good run in the playoffs, the downfall being there are many teams that Oak Ridge has never played and it knows little about. One key to the season, according to Reis, will be getting off to a good start. Oak Ridge faced Rocklin Tuesday, plays El Dorado on the road today and visits Cordova on Sept. 8 before league play begins Sept. 27 at Sheldon. After facing the Huskies, Oak Ridge has Ponderosa and Pleasant Grove before facing perennial powerhouse Jesuit at home on Oct. 6. “Getting off to a good start would be a big plus,” Reis said. “If we win half our league games that would be good for us.” Oak Ridge opened the season with a scrimmage against Casa Roble on Thursday. Though no score was kept and no referees worked the game, it was clear that Oak Ridge had the edge on the Rams. “Our main focus was to get the guys comfortable in their positions,” Reis said of the scrimmage. “We just want to get some chemistry going and the boys came out and executed. They did a good job and I was happy with what I saw.” Oak Ridge travels to El Dorado today for a 7 p.m. non-league game.