by: VERN UYETAKE Tyler Rich returns at midfield for a Lakeridge team that hopes to be in the mix of the race for a league title.

The Lakeridge boys soccer team lost 10 seniors last year but has experienced players returning at nearly every position.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Pacers this year will be replacing the scoring ability it lost last year with Connor Dales and Bryce Reyes graduating.

But coach Erik Cronkrite has options available to fill that void.

Adam Froelich will transition from defense to forward and will pair with Cole Fritz to give Lakeridge some offense.

The Pacers also have two very strong returning midfielders in Alex Ingraham and Tyler Rich and that area of the field should be one of Lakeridge's strengths this season.

Sam Manning also returns for his senior year as does goalie Oliver Savage and Lakeridge's core group of seniors is expected to lead the team this season.

"We have a lot of guys returning and a number of younger players stepped up in our jamboree," Cronkrite said.

The Pacers have plenty of talent but Cronkrite knows that it may take a few weeks for the team to click.

"In the first five to seven games we'll still probably make some mistakes and I hope we're able to learn from them," Cronkrite said.

As is typical for Lakeridge teams, the Pacers are expected to be quick and athletic and Cronkrite has also been impressed with the individual skill of his players.

With the lack of a proven scorer returning to start the season, Lakeridge will look to force the issue at least early in the year to hopefully set up opportunities for goals.

"We'll probably be more aggressive and press people from the get-go. We're focusing on getting our energy up and we're looking for that one flat-out leader," Cronkrite said.

Defensively Beau Sipiora, Angelo Brennan and Zach Goldstein will be called upon to come up big for Lakeridge this season. The team is carrying a handful of talented sophomores as well as a few freshmen.

The Pacers get along very well and, with the amount of talent it has returning, it's likely that Lakeridge will be a top contender in the league again.

The Pacers finished third last year behind Lake Oswego and West Linn and that trio is expected to hover around the top of the standings again this year.

"What we've seen in the past two years is that we've been better than the opposition on several occasions but haven't gotten the result. We'll be competitive but it's going to come down to how much we want it," Cronkrite said.

Lakeridge plays a strong preseason schedule again before opening league play against West Linn.

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