BHS Soccer Sees Biggest Turnout in 5 Years

Seniors Marcos Sanchez (left) and Alex Smoller fight for possession at practice on Aug. 25. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Seniors Marcos Sanchez (left) and Alex Smoller fight for possession at practice on Aug. 25. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Senior-heavy team hopes to reach top of league

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

What’s the deal with boys soccer at Brentwood High School? The team played its first game this week with 37 young men on the roster. That’s the program’s highest turnout in more than five years, and nine more than last year. Over one-fourth of the school’s male population is on the soccer team.

The senior class is the most soccer crazy. No fewer than 11 of them came out for the sport, which is the most they’ve had since 12 in 2010 and nearly twice as many as in each of the past four years.

“We have a lot of seniors and a lot of leadership this year,” said senior team captain Seamus Saunders.

Seamus Saunders eyes the ball in front of Aro Ntatin (left) and Alex Reidel.
Seamus Saunders eyes the ball in front of Aro Ntatin (left) and Alex Reidel.

Seniors = victories?

Of course, senior-heavy squads often produce victories. In fact, the last BHS boys soccer team that finished with a winning record was that 12-senior group in 2010. They went 14-7. But not all this year’s seniors are as experienced as Saunders, a three-year varsity veteran who made first team all-conference as a center midfielder in 2014. Only three of his Class of 2016 mates are fellow returning starters: stopper Alex Smoller, center midfielder Marcos Sanchez and outside midfielder Eddie Wright.

Alex Smoller was a starter last year.
Senior stopper Alex Smoller.
Senior center midfielder Marcos Sanchez.
Senior center midfielder Marcos Sanchez.
Senior stopper Eddie Wright.
Senior outside midfielder Eddie Wright scored two goals in Brentwood’s first game this week.

A fourth senior, Mike Mills, didn’t play last year but has come out and won the starting job at sweeper. A fifth, Justin Redfering, was the JV goalkeeper last year and is playing well enough to challenge returning starter Jordan McGehee.

“It’s a good-size senior class, but it’s not like I’ve been developing them all for four years,” said Cory Grage, now in his 15th season at BHS. “Three or four of those seniors are guys I’ve had only since last year or just this year.”

Cory Grage talks to Eddie Wright. Grage just began his 15th season as Brentwood's head coach.
Cory Grage talks to Eddie Wright. Grage just began his 15th season as Brentwood’s head coach. When reminded of the milestone he replied, “Dear Lord, is that right? It doesn’t seem like it now but it might by the end of the season, depending on how things go.”

As a sophomore, Mills was a football starter at linebacker and averaged over 40 yards a punt. He played neither football nor soccer last fall but this month has quickly earned the crucial sweeper position.

“Mike is making a big impression,” said Grage. Saunders added that Mills is “a big improvement for us.”

Senior sweeper Mike Mills between Eddie Wright (left) and Cristian Sanchez.
Senior sweeper Mike Mills between Eddie Wright (left) and Marcos Sanchez.

Grage is also impressed with Redfering, who first came out for the team last year as a junior and was the second-string goalkeeper behind sophomore Jordan McGehee. But in the first game of the season this week, both saw action in a 6-0 shutout against Metro.

“We’ve got a little bit of a goalkeeper battle going on,” said Grage. “But that’s a great thing. Justin has worked hard in the offseason and it’s his senior year, whereas Jordan is a junior, so it’s up in the air.”

Senior goalkeeper Justin Redfering.
Senior goalkeeper Justin Redfering.
Junior goalkeeper Jordan McGehee.
Junior goalkeeper Jordan McGehee.

‘Good chemistry’

Seven other 2015 starters played varsity last year: outside defenders Jake Burkhardt and Sean Reilly, center midfielder Marcos Sanchez, outside midfielders Cristian Sanchez and Neal Bhattacharya, and forwards Mahoto Sasaki and Quinn Evans. Evans led the Eagles in scoring last season and was voted to the all-conference second team.

Saunders likes that 10 of the 11 first-stringers have played together for at least a full season.

“I’ve played [varsity] with everybody on the starting team except for Mike Mills, and I played with him over the summer,” he said. “We have really good chemistry on this team.”

Junior outside defender Jake Burkhardt.
Junior outside defender Jake Burkhardt (left) and Jackson Reeves.
Sophomore outside defender Sean Reilly (right) challenges Alex Reidel.
Sophomore outside defender Sean Reilly (right) challenges Alex Reidel.
Junior defender Cristian Sanchez.
Junior outside midfielder Cristian Sanchez kicks the ball over Sean Reilly.
Sophomore forward Mahoto Sasaki in front of Hunter Brown-Scott. Sasaki led the Eagles in scoring last year.
Sophomore forward Mahoto Sasaki dribbles against Hunter Brown-Scott.
Junior forward Quinn Evans led the Eagles in scoring as a sophomore.
Junior forward Quinn Evans led the Eagles in scoring as a sophomore and made all-conference.

Conference race

The Eagles will need something special to improve on their overall records of 8-10 last year and 8-12 in 2013. And they’d like to finish higher than both years’ third place in the South Central AA Conference, behind Bayless and Crossroads and ahead of Hancock and Valley Park.

Though Saunders is encouraged that Bayless lost a lot of seniors from last year, Grage said, “The conference is getting better progressively. Crossroads is always a good side and Bayless is a great side. Hancock has huge numbers this year – I think they’ve got 40 kids out there.”

Senior forward/midfielder Joe Dreyer (left) settles the ball as sophomore Chrishawn Houston closes in.
Senior forward/midfielder Joe Dreyer (left) settles the ball as Chrishawn Houston closes in.
Senior Noah Lee tries to get around Eddie Wright.
Senior Noah Lee tries to get around Eddie Wright.
Senior Alex Reidel.
Senior Alex Reidel.
Junior Aro Ntatin (left) is pursued by Noah Lee.
Junior Aro Ntatin (left) is chased by Noah Lee.
Sophomore midfielder/defender Chrishawn Houston considers a move to get past Seamus Saunders.
Sophomore midfielder/defender Chrishawn Houston considers a move to get past Seamus Saunders.
Senior Mitch Bender is chased by Cristian Sanchez (left) and Mason Mills.
Senior Mitch Bender’s dribble is interrupted by Cristian Sanchez (left) and Mason Mills.

Aug. 26: Brentwood 5, O’Fallon Christian 0
Wright scored four goals and Sasaki one as the Eagles rose to 2-0 in O’Fallon. Wright has six goals in the first two games. Saunders contributed two assists and Evans and Houston had one apiece. As they did the day before against Metro, McGehee and Redfering combined for a shutout. McGehee made three saves and Refering two.

Aug. 25: Brentwood 6, Metro 0
The Eagles eased into the new season with an easy victory over host Metro. Wright scored two goals and an assist. Other goals came from Evans, Marcos Sanchez, Joe Dreyer and Aro Ntatin. Sasaki contributed two assists. Redfering made two saves and McGehee one as they combined for the shutout.

Brian Wildgrube, here speaking to Luis Del Castillo, returns to coach the junior varsity team.
Brian Wildgrube, here speaking to Luis Del Castillo, returns to coach the junior varsity team.

Starting lineup in week 1
Goalkeeper: junior Jordan McGehee, senior Justin Redfering
Sweeper: senior Mike Mills
Stopper: senior Alex Smoller
Outside defenders: junior Jake Burkhardt, sophomore Sean Reilly
Center midfielders: seniors Seamus Saunders and Marcos Sanchez
Outside midfielders: senior Eddie Wright and either junior Cristian Sanchez or sophomore Neal Bhattacharya
Forwards: junior Quinn Evans, sophomore Mahoto Sasaki

Freshman goalkeeper Quinlan McClure.
Freshman goalkeeper Quinlan McClure.
Freshmen Mason Baker (left) and Mason Mills clash in a one-on-one exercise.
Freshmen Mason Baker (left) and Mason Mills clash in a one-on-one exercise.
Freshman Daniel Doebber dribbles against sophomore Luis Del Castillo.
Freshman Daniel Doebber dribbles against sophomore Luis Del Castillo.
Sophomore Jackson Neely (right) cuts back against junior Jacob Menne.
Sophomore Jackson Neely (right) cuts back against Jacob Menne.
Freshman Gabe Lawrence.
Freshman Gabe Lawrence.

2015 BHS Soccer Roster
(Asterisk denotes varsity)

Seniors (11)
Mitch Bender, defender
Joe Dreyer*, forward/midfielder
Noah Lee*
Mike Mills*, sweeper
Justin Redfering* goalkeeper
Alex Reidel
Marcos Sanchez*, center midfielder
Seamus Saunders*, center midfielder
Alex Smoller*, stopper
Eli Wouters, defender
Eddie Wright* outside midfielder

Seniors are, from left, Noah Lee, Justin Redfering, Alex Smoller, Alex Reidel, Mike Mills, Joe Dreyer, Mitch Bender, Seamus Saunders, Eddie Wright and Marcos Sanchez. Not pictured: Eli Wouters.
Seniors are, from left, Noah Lee, Justin Redfering, Alex Smoller, Alex Reidel, Mike Mills, Joe Dreyer, Mitch Bender, Seamus Saunders, Eddie Wright and Marcos Sanchez. Not pictured: Eli Wouters.

Juniors (7)
Jake Burkhardt*, outside defender
Quinn Evans*, forward
Blake Lawrence*
Jordan McGehee*, goalkeeper
Jacob Menne, defender
Aro Ntatin*
Cristian Sanchez*, outside midfielder

Juniors are, from left, Quinn Evans, Cristian Sanchez, Jordan McGehee, Jake Burkhardt, Aro Ntatin, Blake Lawrence and Jacob Menne.
Juniors are, from left, Quinn Evans, Cristian Sanchez, Jordan McGehee, Jake Burkhardt, Aro Ntatin, Blake Lawrence and Jacob Menne.

Sophomores (10)
Neal Bhattacharya*, outside midfielder
Hunter Brown-Scott, defender/midfielder
Clayton Byers, forward/midfielder
Luis Del Castillo, defender
Chrishawn Houston*, midfielder/defender
Jackson Neely, defender/midfielder
Sean Reilly*, outside defender
Mahoto Sasaki*, forward
Julen Stubblefield, midfielder/forward
Charles Trieu

Sophomores are, from left, Charles Trieu, Luis Del Castillo, Sean Reilly, Hunter Brown-Scott, Mahoto Sasaki, Chrishawn Houston, Neal Bhattacharya and Jackson Neely. Not pictured: Clayton Byers, Julen Stubblefield.
Sophomores are, from left, Charles Trieu, Luis Del Castillo, Sean Reilly, Hunter Brown-Scott, Mahoto Sasaki, Chrishawn Houston, Neal Bhattacharya and Jackson Neely. Not pictured: Clayton Byers, Julen Stubblefield.

Freshmen (9)
Quinlan McClure, goalkeeper
Mason Baker, midfielder/defender
Daniel Doebber, midfielder
Billy Flynn, midfielder
Gabe Lawrence, defender
Mason Mills, midfielder
Jackson Reeves, forward/midfielder
John Walthall, defender
Angel Sanchez

Freshmen are, from left, Angel Sanchez, Daniel Doebber, Jackson Reeves, Mason Baker, Mason Mills, Quinlan McClure, Billy Flynn and Gabe Lawrence.
Freshmen are, from left, Angel Sanchez, Daniel Doebber, Jackson Reeves, Mason Baker, Mason Mills, Quinlan McClure, Billy Flynn and Gabe Lawrence. Not pictured: John Walthall.

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