For a successful boys soccer season, Lee’s Summit North will need to blend the old with the new.
There are plenty of veteran players from last year’s 15-9 team that placed third in the Suburban Gold Conference and reached the Class 4 District 12 final. But there are some holes to fill. How well the Broncos fill them, coach Ryan Kelley said, could determine how far they go this season.
“It’s going to be a real challenge of a season for us,” Kelley said. “I think we have a lot of good pieces coming back though. We have a good balance of experience plus some young guys who are dynamic and can do some stuff.”
North does have some proven scorers back, most notably senior midfielder Kyle Rock. A first-team all-state and all-conference pick last season, Rock scored five goals last season and also had a team-best seven assists.
“Kyle’s been a great player in the midfield for us,” Kelley said. “He had an excellent season last year. He did a good of scoring some timely goals, having good assists and just giving us a really calming presence in the midfield.”
Midfielder A.J. James also developed as a scorer late last season, as did senior forward Dasean Ransburg. Junior forward Parker Allen also returns up front and will give the Broncos good speed on the flank.
Kelley is mixing those veterans in with newcomers who mostly played on junior varsity last season: junior Abdeallah Falah and sophomores Tyler Dailey and Liam Frank.
“I think we have the ability to have a pretty quality attack,” Kelley said. “We can out to goal and get numbers up and create a lot. They’re not afraid to shoot; they’re not afraid to get up there.”
After summer workouts and nearly two weeks of preseason practice, Rock feels the veterans and newcomers are mixing together just fine.
“We all like each other so much and we bond so easily,” Rock said. “Transferring it from off the field to on the field is so much easier than anyone would think. So I think our team chemistry is going to be really good.”
North lost first-team all-conference defender Zane Daugherty from last season’s back line, but Kelley still expects to be solid there with senior Ryan Templeton returning at center back and Cameron Brennan and Duncan Crosby back at wingback.
There’s a big hole to fill at goalkeeper with the graduation of three-year starter Colin Dooley, but Kelley is confident junior John Foster is ready for the job. Foster was Dooley’s backup last season, and Kelley expects that experience to prove beneficial.
“Colin was a great goalie and he played really well,” Kelley said. “I think John can definitely match him. The experience he’s had filling in for Colin will give him the confidence coming into this season to really step in and do an excellent job.”
The schedule will be a little different this year for North, which only meets crosstown rival Lee’s Summit once with the Tigers dropping out of the Suburban Gold Conference. But the league will still be a challenge, and Lee’s Summit and Lee’s Summit West will likely await the Broncos again in district play.
The right blend of talent could be the key to the Broncos’ success.
“I think we have the potential to do it; the ability will be there,” Kelley said. “We’ll see if we can put it together at the right time.”