SHERWOOD — Expectations are high for the Sherwood High School boys soccer team this season.
And, as it appears, rightfully so.
"With an incredibly experienced core of 11 returning players who, despite a rash of mid-season injuries in 2016, still qualified for the 6A playoffs, are now bolstered in 2017 with the addition of nine newcomers which includes a Brazilian exchange student," Sherwood coach Monty Hawkins said. "Expectations for 2017 are set high for the Bowmen, who want to compete for a top spot in the rugged Three Rivers League and advance as far as they can in the state playoffs."
Sherwood returns 11 players, nine seniors and two juniors, from last year's team that finished in sixth place in the Three Rivers League standings, at 2-4-1, while going 7-7-1 on the season.
Among the returnees is senior defender Brennan Agranoff. Last year, Agranoff, a four-year starter for the Bowmen, earned first-team All-Three Rivers League honors despite being limited to just three contests due to injury.
"He'd blessed with great tackling and heading ability. He is the centerpiece of our defense," Hawkins said. "He adds another dimension to our attack with great skill on the ball and quality passing."
Senior Jett Krieger, an honorable-mention all-league pick last year, returns for his fourth season as Sherwood's goalkeeper.
"He continues to improve each season, with strong hands and shot-stop ability," Hawkins said. "He will again be counted on to make plays when challenged."
Senior Danny Dhas, another honorable-mention all-league pick from a year ago, returns in the midfield.
"He's creative and a technically gifted dribbler and passer who has improved his defending and tackling for 2017," Hawkins said. "He's a key cog in the attack."
Senior Avery Hanlon, a four-year starter and honorable-mention all-league pick last year, returns in the defense. He'll serve as one of the team captains this season.
"He's a strong athletic defender who can also be counted to join the attack with an eye for the goal," Hawkins said. "A great tackler, passer and has dribbling skills."
Sherwood returns another captain in senior midfielder Noah Lafave, who is looking to battle back from a knee injury. Last year, Lafave, a four-year starter, was a second-team all-league selection.
"He's a defensive stalwart and leader of the midfield line, very quick and tenacious player who roams the midfield and sets up our transition to attack with his ball winning and intelligence," Hawkins said.
Senior forward Cameron Huske, who also is looking to come back from injury, returns at a forward spot. Huske was a second-team all-league pick last year.
"He's a high-energy and tireless attacker who can finish in the box," Hawkins said. "He does a great job of putting the opponent under pressure with his relentless commitment to win the ball."
Senior Christian Martinez returns for his third year on the Sherwood varsity.
"He's a very improved player for 2017," Hawkins said. "He is an excellent dribbler and crosser, he can finish in an instance with great ball striking ability. Strength training commitment to defending has shown tremendous growth."
Junior defender Caden Brandt returns for his second year on the Sherwood varsity.
"He's a tough, rugged and competitive defender," Hawkins said. "He has uncanny timing for tackles and ball-winning."
Junior forward Isaac Woidyla also returns for the Bowmen.
"He's athletic, fast and a rangy player who will see action in the attack and defense can beat players with his dribbling skill and create crosses and chances to finish," Hawkins said.
Junior midfielder Evan Thorsell and senior forward Christian Pfeifer also are back on the Sherwood varsity.
Among the newcomers to the Sherwood varsity is senior goalkeeper/forward Garret Hite, who is in just his third year playing competitive soccer.
"He makes great reflex saves as goalie, is a dual threat as a dynamic attacking forward who puts team under pressure constantly and can finish in the box when presented the opportunity," Hawkins said.
Junior newcomer Micah Muller will play at forward.
"He's blessed with speed, determination and the ambition to score," Hawkins said.
Senior Leonardo Del Buono, a Brazilian exchange student, will play in the midfield. Senior midfielder/forward Jonathan Alvarado, a transfer from West Salem, is awaiting decision on academic eligibility from the OSAA.
Other newcomers to the Bowmen varsity roster include junior defender/midfielder Justyn Price, junior midfielder Ty Vohland, junior defender Javen Kazebee, junior forward Brand Tesdall and sophomore forward Stephen Cox.
"We've got a varsity-experienced core of seniors, with four seniors as four-year starters and three others with three years as starters," Hawkins said.
The Bowmen hope that adds up to success in the powerful Three Rivers League this season.
"This year, the goal is to finish in the top four, secure a berth for state, be in contention for a league championship, and make a great playoff run," Hawkins said.
The Bowmen are off to a 1-1 start to the season, getting a 3-2 home win over Southridge last Thursday. Sherwood's scheduled non-league match at Wilson on Tuesday was cancelled due to the poor air quality that hit the area.
The Bowmen are slated to be back in action today (Thursday), when they host Beaverton in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Sherwood will travel to McKay for a 7 p.m. non-league contest.