Joseph Grab controls the ball against Williamson

Joseph Grab soars through the air to control the ball against Williamson during the 2019 boys soccer season.

The Wellsboro Hornets boys soccer team is coming off one of the best seasons for an area team in 2019, and with a large majority of their core returning for the 2020 season, the expectations are sky-high heading into the fall sports year.

If the soccer team gets to take the field, the Wellsboro Hornets team has a rare opportunity to mix a combination of extreme experience with a vast pool of talent that has them sniffing at a possible District Title run in 2020, but will need to be mindful of all of the safety procedures put in place by the PIAA, which could be a challenge all in it’s own.

“With soccer, as with most any sport, there’s an excitement and there’s an emotion,” Wellsboro Head Coach Fitch said. “I think there could be some challenges with that (social distancing). And I think, because soccer is a game of rhythm and flow. When you disrupt that right from the start, it can interfere with the way the game is played and I just think it’s an unfortunate situation we’re facing regarding restrictions.”

Some of the restrictions that Fitch is referring to are the soccer specific guidelines set out by the PIAA two weeks ago, that included no physical contact with other players, for example celebrations.

“It’s tough, I think especially for kids, to not have that social connection and a lot of that involves the high fives and fist bumps and so forth, but it is what it is,” Fitch said.

Fitch also pointed to a few things as key-factors heading into this season, with the first being the one on almost every coach and player’s mind, which is actually getting to play.

“Well first of all we need to be able to play,” Fitch said. “Number two is to stay injury free… I think that goes for so many sports teams and athletic teams, staying injury free… And if we can get the buy in, and everybody invests themselves then anything is possible. I think that’s when you exceed expectations.”

With many variables still up in there, one thing is certain, and that the team that takes the field for Wellsboro in 2020 will be laden with talent who have grown together over the past three years of varsity play, with seven returning seniors and a plethora of blazing speed on the roster, Wellsboro should have a solid opportunity to get themselves to the next level this season if the entirety of the season can be played out.

Of those seven seniors returning, the two who are poised to be the centerpiece of the high-powered Wellsboro offense should be the tanden of Kaedan Mann and Will Poirier, who were outstanding this past season with Mann scoring a team-high 25 goals and Poirier who dished out a team-high 33 assists on an offense that scored 107 total goals this past season.

“I certainly think they’re going to be a focus of attention and Kaeden has such a great way of finding space and going through seams while Will just has a tremendous ability, it’s uncanny, the way he can hit a target and split defenders and penetrate with the ball… But they combined for 41 goals and we I think scored 107 as a team so we have other high performers there as well. So if a team just focuses on those two I don’t think that will come without consequences.”

Despite Poirier and Mann being key to the success of Wellsboro this upcoming season, Fitch believes it will be the other players who will be integral to the improvement of the Hornets attack, and with all the speed available they will cause matchups problems around the entire league.

“We do have a lot of speed,” Fitch said. “And we continue to have speed. We have playmakers in the middle. And we are going to have guys that are going to step in defensively for us. So for us, I think it’s just going to come down to a matter of discipline and execution. If we can do that I’d like the think that we can go and compete.”

With their opening tournament canceled, the Wellsboro boys soccer team will continue to wait and see what the PIAA decides and when their first matchup will take place in a season that they are set to make a big splash in not only the NTL, but all of District Four.