Despite a year filled with big wins and some great individual performances, the 2002 season just didn't seem complete for the Astoria boys soccer team.
After an 0-2 performance in the district playoffs last year, Astoria missed out on the state playoffs for the first time under head coach Jerry Boisvert, providing plenty of incentive for the current season.
In short, the Fishermen are back and determined to right the ship in 2003. Astoria Boys Soccer glanceCoach: Jerry Boisvert (fifth year)
2002: 8-5-2 overall, 5-2-1 league, 0-2 district playoffs
Players to watch: Antonio Alcantar, Henry Brause, Philip Gaffney, Angelo Schauermann.
Key losses: Matt Benoit, Nathan Cope, Richard Lukacs, Diego Macareno.
Outlook: Astoria and Seaside will battle for first in the North Division.They'll have to fill a few holes in the lineup first, but with a healthy turnout, Astoria should be back on the winning track in no time at all.
The Fishermen will sport a young lineup, but as always, the depth will be there for Boisvert and assistant Gordon Thomson.
"It seems a lot like my first year here, when we had a lot of unproven kids coming up to varsity, and a lot of holes to fill," said Boisvert, whose team was 5-2-1 in league play last year. "There's a tremendous amount of talent ... we could even have a few freshmen start this year." That could result in a rough start for the Fishermen.
Thomson said, "We're not very good at the beginning of the year, because we're always trying to find the right spots for people. We can mix kids up and put them anywhere right now. We really don't know what we're going to do. Which is why we always stink in nonleague games."
The Fishermen lost a handful of starters off last year's roster, including Diego Macareno, Tyler Gerttula and defenders Nathan Cope, Jeff Kauppi and James Benoit.
Benoit's brother and all-state honorable mention player, Matt, has moved and will not return for his junior season.
"We ran out of Benoits," Boisvert said. "Matt went to Brazil (on a foreign exchange program), so he wouldn't have been here anyway. That's really going to hurt us. My dream was to have him and Philip (Gaffney) play up front for three years. That would have been slick."
As it is, Gaffney, a junior, will have to team up with possibly Antonio Alcantar, a senior who sports a lot of speed and quickness, and who scored a lot of goals at the junior varsity level last year.
"Philip is really solid," Boisvert said. "He's hoping to play the striker role, and he will definitely get a look there."
The familiar faces back in the lineup include senior midfielder Angelo Schauermann, and senior defenders Ryan Law and Adam Kauppi.
Junior Henry Brause is back in goal, with Adam Murray and Jon Wedell also returning for their junior seasons.
Boisvert is pleased to have the returners, but he's even more excited about a few newcomers, including freshmen Jaime Rebuella and Josimar Macareno, "who has really impressed me," Boisvert said.
"I was pleasantly surprised to see Josimar and Jaime - two freshmen - walk right in and make it naturally easy to put them with the varsity kids. They don't have much size, but they have the drive and the speed and skills to be there.
"We have lot of depth, and a lot of kids to try," he said. "We might have the luxury of shuffling kids in and out this year."
Also new to the lineup will be senior Pete Sabul, this year's foreign exchange student.
A hockey player from Finland, Sabul "hasn't played soccer for two years, but just like any European, he has pretty sound skills," Boisvert said.
The biggest change for Astoria is on the defensive line.
"Adam (Murray) and Ryan Law have played there, and Pete says he likes to play defense," Boisvert said, while senior Ackley Lane is another player who may see action on the back line. "The defense is wide open for whoever wants to play it, and the same with the midfield."
Schauermann "will be the shining star if he stays healthy," Boisvert said. "Angelo has really taken it seriously this year. He's in shape, and he's a well-skilled player."
Sophomores Reese Kauppi and Micah Schauermann also have great skills, with Kauppi possibly playing a midfield position.
Brause will be the starting keeper, while freshman Gabe Davis has impressed the coaches in fall practice.
"Henry will be in goal, although we have a new keeper (Davis) who I am really impressed with," Boisvert said.
Thomson added, "Henry feels he needs to prove something. He's still hurting from the end of last season - it was just an unlucky deal there and he feels bad about it. He's going to be working hard.
"I'm really impressed with the work ethic," Thomson said. "They work very hard. We didn't do any conditioning the first three days (of fall practice), just because we didn't feel the need to. They run their tails off in all the drills. The majority of our kids were in shape when they came in, and that makes our job easier."
The District's new alignment into North and South Divisions will feature Astoria, Rainier, Scappoose and Seaside playing each other three times each in the regular season.
"I don't care how good you are, it's tough to beat a team three times in a season," Thomson said. "That should make it interesting. Seaside will be good - they have speed and can put the ball in the net; and Rainier has been tough for the last four years."