The East Carter boys’ soccer team hopes to return to the state tournament.
Coach Chris Huddle believes despite last year’s graduation this won’t be a rebuilding year. Huddle has been the head coach for the past three seasons. He coached the team to their first ever regional title in 2016 followed by their second in 2017.
As coach, the Raiders have not missed out on a regional finals appearance and Coach Huddle believes this team has the ability to keep that tradition going.
After falling short in the regional finals to Boyd County, the Raiders return hungry. The Raiders finished last 16-3. They upset the regional favorite Rowan County, 2-0, in the semifinals.
“We just want to show that we can be back on top this year. I think people still overlook us even after those two regional wins. We are just going to go out there and show people what we have got,” said center-back Shawn Greenhill.
The Raiders return over half last year’s starting lineup but have some big spots to fill. The Raiders will miss forward Brian McDowell, midfielder Doug Porter, midfielder Hunter McMillen and center-back Chase Burton. Together they combined for 57 goals and 34 assists. McDowell led the team alongside Ethan Miller. McDowell and Miller had 27 goals a piece.
Miller returns as a junior this year.
“We will be playing him up top more this year. Hopefully, that will give him a lot more touch and a lot more chances to score,” said Huddle.
The Raiders have already seen the benefits of Miller as a striker this season. Miller scored five goals in this season’s 12-3 win over Morgan County and four goals in the 5-0 win over Ashland. Miller enters the third week of the regular season with 12 goals.
Also returning to the offense is Garret Halstead. Halstead was a standout player at Greenup County and transferred to East Carter last season as a junior.
“Getting adapted to the team happened really fast. I play club ball with a lot of these guys, so it was a pretty easy transition. I am really hoping it carries over into this year and we can do some big things. I am going to make the best of this year,” said Halstead.
Halstead only played in three games last season starting with the district finals against West Carter. Halstead scored three goals in the district finals and has scored five goals this season.
“I think scoring will be our strength this year. I think we will have a very solid defense but I really believe that we have a lot of scoring power and you will be seeing us put a lot of balls in the net,” said Huddle.
The Raiders are off to a rapid start having won all five games this season prior to Tuesday night’s game against West Carter.
Logan Cales returns as an upperclassmen. He finished last season with 15 goals and seven assists. After sitting out the first two games due to a red card he received during last year’s regional semifinals, Cales has already scored 7 goals.
He scored four goals in the 10-0 win over Greenup, one goal against Ashland and two goals in the 4-0 win over Prestonsburg.
“If cool heads prevail, I think we can expect a lot out of Logan. He is a very talented soccer player,” said Huddle.
Holding down the defense this year will be Shawn Greenhill and goalkeeper Trevor Cline. Greenhill return as a senior having been a starter his freshman year. He only scored one goal last season but is happy to take a more discrete roll for the Raiders.
“I have never been one to go up and shoot the ball. Defense has always just come naturally to me. I have always played there,” said Greenhill.
Coach Huddle couldn’t be more proud of the job Greenhill has done as a leader for the past three seasons. He strongly believes Greenhill to be one of the regions best defensive players and a strong contributor to the Raiders postseason success.
Cline returns as a junior with incredible potential in the net. Last year, Cline only allowed 15 goals and had 12 shutouts. He made 66 saves.