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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Spartans pleasant surprise for coach


Thomas Karrs knew his Greenbrier East boys soccer team was talented going into this season.

But he also knew the Spartans were somewhat inexperienced.

Their 12-7-2 record going into tonight’s Region 3 semifinal against Shady Spring in Bluefield tonight has been a bit of a surprise, even to him.

“I think we’ve overachieved somewhat this year,” Karrs said. “We sort of jelled toward the end of the season.”

The Spartans returned seven seniors from last season’s 9-9-2 squad, and none of them play soccer year-round like players on other strong teams.

“Maybe we’ve not had as much experience or playing time as on other teams, but we’ve had quite a few new players who stepped up,” Karrs said. “I’ve been happy with the progress.”

Moving senior midfielder Charlie Umberger to sweeper has helped solidify the East defense.

While he still occasionally brings up balls, and is a threat on penalty kicks and direct kicks, Umberger has excelled on the defensive side.

“Charlie has good speed and he’s very smart,” Karrs said. “He doesn’t panic under pressure, which is important in the final defensive position.”

Another standout has been junior forward Logan Hollar, who has 20 goals and 10 assists.

Karrs would have liked to see even more scoring from him.

“Sometimes our problem has been not getting the ball to Logan,” he said. “He’s a very fast and a productive offensive player.”

Senior Jake Glasser, who has seven goals, and junior Lucas Lemine, an assist-maker, are the other forwards.

Glasser helps take the pressure off Hollar while Lemine, last year’s goalkeeper, has become a solid passer.

Berkeley Miller is having a solid year at midfielder. Fast and strong, the senior has scored 10 goals.

“He plays aggressively and he’s extremely confident on offense and defense,” Karrs said.

Other midfielder include Christian Karrs, the coach’s son, and Ethan Beard.

The younger Karrs owns six goals while Beard is more of a defensive player. He has incredible stamina and “can run forever.”

Keeper Andrew Schreifer owns four shutouts.

“Andrew has made newcomer mistakes at times, like coming out too much, but he’s learned from experience,” Karrs said. “He’s tall (6-foot-3) and has long arms and good hands. He’s played some big games.”

Other defenders include Steven Alsobrook, who has grown stronger at stopper; Ben Gesner, who has a strong leg and does goal kicks and corner kicks; and Glen Anderson, an aggressive player currently hampered by a foot injury.

Utility player Michael Privett and forward-midfielder Matt Bennett are top reserves.

Karrs called the Spartans’ 2-2 tie with Woodrow Wilson three weeks ago a turning point.

“When you tie the best team in the state when you’re down 2-0 after 10 minutes, it gives you the confidence you can play with the best,” he said. “A tie against Woodrow Wilson is as good as a win against anybody else.”

The Spartans trailed Princeton 1-0 before rallying to win 4-1 for the Section 3 championship. Hollar scored two goals while Miller and Glasser had one apiece.

Shady Spring advanced to tonight’s game by downing Independence 2-1 for the Section 4 title. Shawn Mullins scored twice for the 5-7 Tigers.

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