ELKTON — Elkton High School boys’ soccer coach RJ Fisher returns for his second season as he looks to turn around a program that struggled in it’s first season in the daunting Chesapeake Division of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.
The Golden Elks went winless in upper-division play last season, and posted a 4-10 record overall, two marks that Fisher knows they can eclipse this season.
“Last year’s 0-6 record was not what I wanted to see, obviously,” he said. “We had a few things that were changing: new coach, new division and a lot of young players. Now that they’re all kind of acclimated, I see that [wins column] number changing quite dramatically.”
With six starters returning from the 2017 campaign, Elkton will have to get its sophomore-heavy roster up to speed quickly. The Elks will also have to overcome the loss of two-time All-County defender Peter Olakunle, who graduated, and also move on from 2016 Player of the Year Jacob Bosler, who is now the kicker for the football team.
Seniors Easton Shelly (outside back) and Jacob Buskell (goalkeeper) will provide the experienced leadership that a young team will need on the defensive end. Both were tabbed as honorable mention All-County representatives last year in their respective roles. Sophomore Austin Caricoft also returns in his outside back role after establishing himself as a freshman last season.
“Easton and Austin are two great outside backs, but they can play as wingers as well,” Fisher said. “Both are dangerous from the defensive perspective, but also coming forward we will try to get those guys on attack a lot too.”
Sam Teigland headlines the midfield group after taking over the center mid role as a freshman. Fisher credits his physicality and high speed of play as two reasons he expects the sophomore to have a breakout campaign. Senior Caidin Hopkins also returns, but is likely to slide back to center back instead of the midfield role he had last season.
Two players who will be more heavily featured this year are sophomores Mark Carrico and Mark Kolb. Carrico was a mid-year transfer from out of state who dealt with some injuries last season but should see more time in 2018. Kolb showed promise as a striker as a freshman, and has put in a lot of work over the summer to make a larger contribution this season.
Fisher has seen plenty of game action already thanks to two preseason tournaments, and he thinks his guys are prepared to hit the ground running against Edgewood on Thursday.
“Overall, I like the way we are playing,” he said. “There’s room for improvement, for sure, but these guys have had about a month now playing together, so I think we are going to compete — not just in the county, but also in the upper division.”