Photo by Andrew Ottoson
The 2018 boys soccer Bulldogs are (back row, from left): Bryan Ruiz, Dayne Kinsley, Aidan Acton, Isaac Vandomelen, Michael Told, Adrian Ramirez, Owen Ruklic, Sebastian Darwish and coach Mike Connolley; front row, Colin Husted, Dalton Dennis, Gavin Gibleau, Jake Wren, Emilio Barela, Alec Rioux, Luis Castro and Josh Nichols. Not pictured: Bryan Gomez, Jesus Perez, Robert Newsom and coach Joel Gomez.
As of Thursday, August 30, 2018
Grangeville soccer turnout — girls and boys — topped 40 in the program’s second year at the high school level. That’s up from the 31 who turned out for the inaugurual season last fall.
And with comings and goings before rosters were finalized last week, the numbers were briefly even higher.
“We thought we’d have 18, but I think we have 20 so far,” boys coach Joel Gomez told the Free Press Aug. 14. “It’s a good number. When it gets over 20, it’s a little tough to get everyone in the game.”
Grangeville ended up rostering 19 boys.
“We have everybody who played last year except the seniors [who graduated] and one who moved away,” Gomez said.
With the departure, Gomez is rethinking one defense position he thought he had figured out going into the offseason.
What won’t change is the larger system.
“My system will be a 3-5-2, but you have to have the right players for that,” Gomez said. “The positions are three defenders, three midfielders and two forwards, and you have two wingers. The three in the middle, they go as the play goes. The wingers carry the ball on the sides and their job is to center. We have two forwards or strikers but we count like four forwards because if the right side carries the ball, the left side still runs up. The two wings, they have to have the conditioning to run the whole sideline — they help offense and they help defending.”
Having graduated wings Amador Perez and Ryan Ruklic, for 2018, the wingers are Emilio Barela and Josh Nichols.
“Those guys have the type of conditioning to run really fast and get back and forth, and they’re good defenders as well,” Gomez said. “Josh Nichols, two years ago, he had never played soccer. I do clinics during the winter, and this winter, he looked like he has played forever. He’s my most improved.”
Look for Grangeville to apply pressure in each fourth of the field.
“For my team, the defense starts from the forwards,” he said. “They pressure, and we get the ball. Their fourth has the most traffic. I’m working with them on definition and shooting, so it’s not just pass-pass-nothing.
The forwards (sometimes described as strikers) for 2018 are Michael Told and Aiden Acton, with Dalton Dennis, Sebastian Darwish and Isaac Vandomelan competing for time.
Jesus Perez and Bryan Ruiz return to the midfield, and Owen Ruklic and Jake Wren will man the back line.
“We have good midfielders and good strikers — defense might be our weak side,” Gomez said.
And that’s where the team will rely on the coach’s son, with Bryan Gomez stepping in for graduated keeper Ethan Bonn.
With a year of varsity play under their belts, the Bulldogs will be more competitive this fall. Playing mostly 3A Intermountain League teams, GHS finished 4-8 last fall.
But as a team they are improving.
“A lot of the guys on this team have put a lot of hours into soccer,” Gomez said. “They have more experience in it. I think they’ll be more competitive.”
An early-season result shows the progress made — and the progress still to make. Grangeville’s Aug. 21 season opener against McCall ended up a 5-2 loss compared to an 11-0 blowout the Vandals inflicted in 2017.
Grangeville’s season continues on Aug. 30, when the Bulldogs host Priest River.
After road games at Bonners Ferry and Timberlake, GHS will host Orofino on Sept. 10 as part of a 12-game schedule.