The Daily Record prepares for the fall 2021 sports season by previewing some of the top players in each sport.
In this issue, The DR breaks down 15 of the best players to watch during the upcoming boys’ soccer season. Girls ‘football will follow in the coming days, as will volleyball, cross-country skiing, golf and girls’ tennis.
Nate Monastra, Wooster, sr.
With arguably the best foot skills of any player in the region a year ago, Monastra will be looking to headline the Wooster attack this fall. Known for his smooth passes, excellent field view and ability to act in traffic, he is always a threat when on the field. Monastra will lead Wooster to an intense tournament run during his final high school season.
Statistics for 2020: 9 goals, 6 assists; Career statistics: 24 goals, 9 assists
Ryne Armentrout, Orrville Jr.
The most complete player to return for Orrville this fall is Armentrout. Last year he stabilized the defensive line with his speed and his strong foot, which enabled him to clear dangerous balls. On the offensive, he proved to be an important asset as he was consistently a reliable foot to drop the ball on and also knew when to turn the field around. This fall, his ability to control the pace of play will have a huge impact on the Red Riders’ success on the court.
Statistics for 2020: 16 goals, 11 assists; Career statistics: 21 goals, 18 assists (20.)
Bryan Cruz, Orrville Jr.
Former Waynedale striker and now Orrville Junior will be looking to take off. Cruz has the ability to accelerate through the kinks and get up to top speed quickly, has great feel for the ball, and is a dangerous player in space. Put all of that together and there’s no doubt he’s going to be dynamite for the Red Riders in the offensive third this fall.
Statistics for 2020: 17 goals, 8 assists (at Waynedale); Career statistics: 27 goals, 13 assists
Carter Fath, Smithville, Sr.
A year ago, Smithville assembled one of its best teams in the history of the program and made its first appearance in the county finals. Fath played no small part in this run as he proved crucial in the center of the pitch and with his ability to finish around the frame. This fall, he’ll be looking to anchor the Green Machine to defend its league crown and make more programming history in the tournament.
Statistics for 2020: 9 goals, 10 assists; Career statistics: 20 goals, 17 assists
Wyatt Freeman, Hiland, sr.
Goalkeeper is the last line of defense and Freeman turned out to be a formidable opponent for his opponents. The senior played excellently in big games a year ago and is considered an anchor of defense this year as the Hawks eye another deep tournament run.
Statistics for 2020: 8 shutouts, 1.25 allowed goals per game
Brendan French, Wooster Jr.
There was simply no engine that ran like French did last year. The Wooster striker was small in stature, but huge at heart. French bounced off the pitch no matter how often he was knocked down by bigger players. When you add his good foot skills, his ability to walk through traffic, and his vision of the pitch, there is no doubt that he will be a force in the fall.
Statistics for 2020: 3 goals, 7 assists; Career statistics: 4 goals, 9 assists
Ethan Graf, Norwegian, sr.
A talented goalkeeper who stabilized the back third of the Norwegian defense a year ago, Graf, was particularly rock solid on the track. The Bobcats will be looking for more of Graf when they hit the pitch this fall.
Statistics for 2020: 6 shutouts, 1.30 goals per game allowed
Nic Graham, Norwayne, sr.
There was no question that Graham outperformed most of his rivals in the WCAL last fall. The Bobcat Senior can score from anywhere, create for teammates within 18 and has a huge impact on the win-loss column for Norwayne. This fall he will try to assert himself again as the ‘Cats’ have a league crown and much more in their sights.
Statistics for 2020: 29 goals, 8 assists; Career statistics: 51 goals (10th in area history), 12 assists
Dallas Hostetler, Central Christian Jr.
Hostetler battled injuries last year and still had a chance to show off his moxie and skills that made him a difficult player to handle. With feet quick to slip in and out of traffic, great foot skills, and a high soccer IQ, the junior striker delivered when it was most important to get the Comets back into the regional league. In the further course of autumn it will be counted again to aggressively set the pace.
Statistics for 2020: 8 goals; Career statistics: 14 goals, 7 assists
Caelan Howell, Hiland, sr.
Howell played in a balanced and competent team last year and took full advantage of the opportunities offered to him. A key component in the Hawks’ attack, its ability to end up around the frame and create looks for teammates, was crucial a year ago. This fall, he’ll be looking to continue and build on that game as Hiland gets in again with high hopes.
Statistics for 2020: 12 goals, 5 assists; Career statistics: 13 goals, 6 assists
Dennison Lopez, Orrville Jr.
The ability to score has always been an elite skill in Lopez’s wheelhouse, but the Orrville junior will be looking to continue his advances this fall. Lopez has scored a ton of goals against many teams and will try to improve his game even more. His ability to do so will no doubt be of vital importance to the Red Riders.
Statistics for 2020: 28 goals, 13 assists; Career statistics: 54 goals (9th), 23 assists (15th)
Zach Mullet, Hiland, sr.
The best teams can control the pace of play, and Mullet gives the Hawks this ability. The senior midfielder has a high soccer IQ, can get the ball out in the blink of an eye, has a knack for landing within the 18, and is key to his team’s ability to build offensively in big games. This autumn he will try to spark the Hiland offensive and consistently bring it into good situations.
Statistics for 2020: 13 goals, 6 assists; Career statistics: 22 goals, 8 assists
Thatcher Rohrer, Central Christian Jr.
Rohrer, a junior defender, was as tough as she was in the Comets’ defense last year. With a high level of game knowledge, a steady foot, great foot skills and a booming leg, Rohrer can turn the field around in the blink of an eye and has done so many times before. When Central Christian starts a new year they will be counting on him to stabilize the defense.
Statistics for 2020: 1 goal
Simon Schönfeld, Wooster Jr.
With as much talent as Wooster had from midfield and up, it was the back half that turned out to be the key. Schönfeld, a junior defender, always seemed to be the focus as he led the defense. With a strong foot, the ability to connect the dots on the field and put his team at an advantage, he turned out to be a weapon for the generals. With a view to the final assertion of the tournament, there is no doubt that Schönfeld has a key to it.
Statistics for 2020: 1 goal
Aiden Strand-Fox, Wooster, Sr.
Strand Fox will attempt a fatal one-two punch in the middle of the field with Nate Monastra for the Generals. Though his stats from a year ago were modest, Strand-Fox can hit the ball well, knows how to find wrinkles, and works well in flight combinations.
Statistics for 2020: 3 goals, 1 assist