File photo by Rick Nation
On the face of it, the Bryant Hornets soccer team goes in the 2016 season looking like a team destined for big things in 2017. That’s because there are just four seniors on the team to go with 12 juniors and 12 sophomores accentuated by the arrival of seven freshmen.
But if you could do it in 2017, why not 2016 too?
That’s the way the Hornets are approaching the season as they get underway this evening against Little Rock Christian Academy at Bryant Stadium.
Coming off an 8-11-1 season in which they were nudged out of the Class 7A State Tournament by the Rogers Mounties, 1-0, the Hornets welcome back seniors Danny Vivar, Krishna Gurung, Nathan Suarez and Davis Toler along with Victor Fuentes who’s new to the team.
“We’re pretty young,” said Hornets coach Jason Hay. “We don’t have a lot of senior leadership but the ones we have are very good. And some of the juniors and sophomores have been playing, some starting, since ninth grade.
“We’ve had a good preseason,” he related. “This team has probably one of the better attitudes, just coming to work every day, wanting to play hard, that I’ve had.
“Last year, we were pretty undersized and, though I don’t think anybody’s going to look at us and say we’re all six-footers, I think we’re a little bit larger this year,” the coach said. “I know that will help us. We gave up some plays on some set pieces last year that, basically, we just got out-manned. I’m hoping that some of the bigger, taller guys on the back will come through for us.”
Regarding his seniors, Hay added, “Krishna, Danny and Suarez played good roles last year and look to increase that this year. They’ll all be starters.”
Of the line-up and rotation, the coach said, “Right now, nothing’s set but, on the back line, our back four will be Suarez, Dalton Bryant, Conner Qualls, Luke Welch. And we’re looking to move Hayden Ray out of the goal into the back line to try to help shore up the defenders. Qualls played quite a bit last year and Welch and Nathan too but Dalton’s the only guy — really none of them started the entire year due to injury or some other things. That’s probably our biggest question mark.”
Ray started at keeper last year. He’s able to move out onto the field due to the promise of junior Logan Valestin.
“I’m looking for Logan to come in and play some in the keep early in the season to see if he can get it done,” Hay said. “Logan’s is tall with long arms.
“Jhorman Cruz and Gurung will start in the mid with Ricky Barrientos and Martin Ramierez probably starting up top with Miguel Garcia and Victor looking to get some time up there.
“Danny will be on the wing,” he continued. “Ricky and Miguel may play some there too. James Lasley, Andy Doonan, Dawson Oakley and Luis Lara, we’re looking at those guys to play the wing for us.”
Along with Valestin, Ray, Qualls, Lasley and Doonan are juniors along with Jon Sohn, Kobe Ray, Brian Resendiz, Javier Zamora and Ramon Aguilera.
Garcia, Barrientos, Cruz, Welch and Oakley are sophomores as are Adolfo Martinez, Oscar Jiminez, Arron Sahlmann, Cole Gillespie, Reese Graham and Edgar Tejada.
Freshmen on the team are Thomas Bullington, Alexander Sohn, Jackson Givens, Garrett Inman and Christopher Fuller along with Lara and Rameirez.
For the Hornets’ 2016 schedule, go here