Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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December 30, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER: Time to work

AHS looks to improve on eight win 2013 campaign

Athens — With the cooler temperatures headed our way, it begins another season of high school soccer for coach Jonathan Ryal and the Athens Hornets.

The 2013 Hornets — who finished last season as a bi-district finalist with an 8-12-5 season — lost in the opening round to Kilgore, 3-0 at Whitehouse High School.

This was the third straight year Athens has faced Kilgore in the opening round of the playoffs.

Ryal said the Bulldogs are a team they hope they will not see in their final year of Class 4A soccer.

“We want to avoid Kilgore since we have played them three years in a row,” Ryal said. “If you get third place, you are looking at playing Pine Tree, who is really good as well. We are tired of playing Kilgore in the playoffs.”

UIL officials announced last year that a 3A classification would be established during the 2014-2015 school year.

He said with the move to Class 3A soccer, he is ready to see how the new district's will play out this February.

“Class 3A soccer starts next year and we could be in a district that is closer to our size,” Ryal said. “We want to move forward this year and be ready for the on ramp into Class 3A soccer. We want to get better for next season and we are looking towards the future.”

The Hornets coaching staff is looking at possibly fielding 18-to-20 players on varsity — led by forward Enrique Rodriguez. Ryal said Rodriguez has a chance to beat the school's scoring record of 48 goals, held by Jon David.

Ryal said right now he is looking for other players to work with him at the forward position.

“We are going to start with Juan Mota and we will have Jose Martinez, Jordy Castaneda and Raul de la Fuente,” Ryal said. “I have some kids that I am also looking at on the right wing.”

They will also be looking for a goalkeeper after Johnny Gonzalez graduated this past season. One name that has been mentioned is Garrett Lawyer.

“Luckily, last year we had a lot of the younger kids that got a lot of playing time,” Ryal said. “I pretty much know what my starting lineup will be and this year I have a couple of goalkeepers to use.”

The Hornets will open the 2014 soccer season on Jan. 16 against the Jacksonville Indians in the opening round of the Palestine Tournament. The match is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Athens comes in as the defending champions of the tournament, and will also face Center, Chapel Hill and Palestine in the tournament.

“We are going to go to the Palestine tournament which we won last year and we will play Jacksonville in that tournament. Corsicana, Center, Texas High and Palestine will be in the tournament as well.”

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