Pregame introductions have taken on an entirely new meaning for the men’s soccer team at Chesapeake College this season.
Only two sophomores return from a squad that went 5-10 last year.
“It’s a brand-new team,” said Chesapeake’s first-year coach Tony Lhotsky, who replaces Michael Kozlowski. “Twelve of the guys we have on the roster are freshmen. And we have three more freshmen joining the team soon.”
The 45-year-old Lhotsky said a roster crowded with youth is a positive.
It enables him to mold the Skipjacks into a team that can play his style.
“The biggest thing is that you can build a program from the ground up,” he explained.
Lhotsky will spend plenty of time teaching, which is something he thoroughly enjoys doing.
He spent the past three years coaching Shore Football Club teams from the U11 to the U17 age groups before taking over Chesapeake.
“I definitely like the developmental side of things,” Lhotsky said. “And there’s not a lot of attitude on the team. They are all open to learning new things, which is good. They have come in from different high schools.
“They have come in from five or six different high schools,” he added. “We are just trying to bring then all together and learn a new game.”
Lhotsky will lean heavily on two sophomore captains: Hayden Kessinger and Bradley King.
Both are returning starters. Kessinger is a gritty player and one of the best defenders on the Skipjacks.
“They both really know how to play the game and they lead by example on the field,” Lhotsky said. “You don’t really hear them talking a lot, but their style of play and not giving up and being aggressive persuades the team to move quickly. They are getting the other guys to understand the pace of game at the college level.”
The arrival of sophomore Sebastian Jaramillo, a transfer from Anne Arundel Community College, bolsters the midfield. He’s a graduate of Queen Anne’s High.
“He is definitely a player who really possesses the ball and distributes it well,” Lhotsky said.
The midfield will be feeding a frontline of freshmen Catherine Dominguez and Kyle Kastel.
Dominguez is the only women on the team, and Lhotsky said her background as a player with boys growing up made the transition easy to the men’s game.
“She has played on the boys side on club-level ball,” Lhotsky said. “She has come into this pretty level headed.”
The defense of freshmen Connor Kastel, Remy Mangum, Tristan Pouliot and Connor Kastel.
“They are relentless,” Lhotsky said. “Being a small squad, we don’t have a lot of subs. Even when they are dead tired and the other team is pushing, they are still running at 100 percent.”
The defense will be protecting goalie Alek Riedel, a product of Easton High.
“He has bailed out our team a couple of times when you thought there was no way he was going to save a goal,” said Lhotsky, whose team started 0-3. “He has only played the sport two or three years, but he is a natural in the goal as far as reacting and catching the ball or knocking it away. You really don’t find that in many players.”