By JARED JERNAGAN
After losing about 50 percent of his team's scoring from last year, Greencastle boys' soccer coach Dave Lilly came into the 2008 campaign knowing his team would have to find some offense.
Through three games, it doesn't look as if the Tiger Cubs are having many problems. GHS is 3-0 and seven different players have found the back of the net. They are also averaging more than four goals a game, while giving up less than two.
For Lilly, the real key to the season is in how the veterans mix with their younger teammates. The Tiger Cubs have three seniors, seven juniors and the other 16 guys are all under classmen.
"So far, I'm pleased with the leadership," Lilly said. "Every year's different and the chemistry's different. We started camp right after moratorium week. They've worked hard ever since. The seniors have been leading them to get them organized to play some pick-up stuff. We started conditioning and they've been pushing the under classmen to work hard for conditioning. I've got no complaints on that front.
"I think we'll have some pretty good team chemistry," he continued. "That's always important with a young team. I don't really see the upper classmen getting down on the younger guys."
The Tiger Cubs lead with that senior class of Cary Russell, Griffin Moore and Greg Lilly. All three are team captains, and the coach is pleased with them so far.
Lilly tied for the team lead in goals last year (14) and led in assists (8), so his leg will loom large once again for the Cubs. He opened his senior year with four goals against Monrovia last Tuesday.
In the junior class, no one will have a bigger impact than the Cubs' goalie. However, some healthy competition should help junior Ryan Payne to step up his game even further this year.
"The key guy in the junior class is Ryan Payne in the goal. We have sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Parker, who's pretty close to him. We're deep in the keeper slot. The competition will make them work," Lilly said.
But GHS will also be asking for a lot from its under classmen in 2008.
"There's a big sophomore class with a lot of talent," Lilly said. "This is going to be a good year for them. I have five or six of them who got varsity time last year, and they're going to see a lot more time this year. We've got a few freshmen who look like they will be able to play some varsity minutes.
"Even though we're going to be a young team and not as big physically as we've been the last few years, I still think we'll be able to hold our own," he added.
On the year, the coach said he has a number of goals. He wants to match last year's win total (10) as well as win the WCC. But the big goal is sectional. Playing in a draw with Mooresville and Martinsville, the Tiger Cubs have struggled in recent seasons.
Speaking on behalf of the three seniors, Moore echoed his coach's sentiments in this regard.
"The first goal every year is to win conference, so that basically means we have to beat Speedway," Moore said. "After that, we want to match last year's win total and actually compete in sectionals. The last few years we haven't shown up."
The Tiger Cubs moved to 3-0 with a 3-2 win over Crawfordsville Tuesday night. They host Danville at Dee Monnett Field at 5 p.m. Thursday.