Lofty goals: Tiger booters have big expectations for this season

DEVOLA – Marietta High’s soccer team will not lack talent or experience this season, as it will be led by eight seniors, including 2012 second team All-Ohio selection Brent Huck.

The orange and black also returns all-district performers Brennan Uhrig, Eric Pierce, Tanner Rake, Andrew Roberts and Jacob Holdren.

“We have some lofty goals,” said MHS head coach Todd Morris at the Devola Soccer Complex Friday evening during the team’s second official practice.

“We have a good group of returning seniors. We have a group of juniors that got a lot of experience at the varsity level last season. Internally, we have some high expectations and some pretty big goals.”

Morris knows first-hand that teams with experience and camaraderie usually have success.

“Typically, with this program, when we have a larger senior class that’s played together, good things happen,” he said. “Hopefully the pattern continues.”

Speaking of patterns, Marietta has a good one going right now, having won a league title the past three seasons.

In 2010, the Tigers finished at the top of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League. After moving to the East Central Ohio League in 2011, Marietta has dominated, winning back-to-back league championships. Now, it has its eyes set on No. 4 in a row.

“That’s obviously one of our goals, to win the ECOL again,” Morris said. “That’d be four straight league titles for these seniors. We think we have the pieces in place to regain that district title that Warren’s had the last two years.”

One of those pieces will be Huck, who led the Tigers offensively last fall with nine goals. Huck, a three-year letterman, has 23 career goals and is expected to again be a large contributor on the team.

“Brent puts a lot of time in, on his own time,” Morris said. “He plays year-round. Soccer is his passion. He is our vocal leader.”

On the other side of the pitch, Pierce is expected to again play keeper. Pierce recorded 113 saves a year ago and shut out the opposing team six times. Defenders Roberts and Rake will also play big roles in shutting down opposing offenses. Uhrig and Holdren notched five and six goals, respectively, in 2012 and will likely be offensive threats again this fall. “Between (Huck), Brennan Uhrig and Eric Pierce, who are all seniors, they’re all great leaders in their own way,” Morris said. “Brent’s the vocal one. Brennan leads by example and he works hard. Pierce being the goal keeper, same thing. But those three, and really all the seniors, have put in a lot of work.

“Like I told the seniors, we will go as far as they can take us.”

The Tigers’ opening game against Warren will be Aug. 22. Until then, the orange and black will be doing a lot of running.

“Conditioning is big for us,” Morris said. “We traditionally have been a program that is very well-conditioned. A lot of games are won or lost in the late stages and we’ve won a lot of games over the years late. So we spend a lot of time conditioning. It’s not always the fun thing to do but soccer is a game of constant movement.”

While Marietta may not have fun during conditioning, Morris said that the Tigers are going to tweak their style of play a bit this season and he believes they will be very entertaining to see play on the pitch this fall.

“We have kind of fine-tuned some things,” Morris said. “We’ve kind of tweaked our formation. I think we’re gonna be a lot of fun to watch this year. We’re gonna open up a little bit and play a more offensive style. People kind of think of soccer as a 1-0 game, but we’re try and open it up some and see what happens.”