by Ken Brown
CRAFTSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) boys’ soccer team will head into their second season of the Mountain League this fall having to replace two of their top players from a season ago under first year head coach William Garske.
The Chargers were the surprise of the highly competitive Mountain League last fall, winning three games and being in several tight matches in Sam Jay’s only season at the helm. Jay took over a program that went winless in 2020, scoring one goal the entire season. Sophomore Cole VanWinkle turned the offensive around with a team-leading eight goals and First Team All-Mountain League and All-State goalkeeping sensation Jas Zendik kept CA in virtually every match with his stellar play in net. VanWinkle has transferred and Zendik has graduated, leaving Garske the tall task of replacing the dynamic duo.
“We’re a small team so far this year in practice with only 12, but we hope to add a few more as school starts and guys get healthy,” said Garske. “We have some holes to fill, but we have some talented returning players, with a nice core of juniors who have a lot of experience and will provide some great leadership. Jas was a great player for CA and we are lucky to have him helping the coaching staff out this fall, grooming a promising freshman for us in goal,” added Garske.
Garske will lean on senior captain Dalton Gravel and junior captains Dylan Washer and Roean McLellan to help bring his young team along throughout the season. They got a much needed scrimmage against Lake Region under their belt this past week before they start the rigors of the Division III-rich Mountain League on Wednesday.
“Dalton, Dylan, and Roean have all returned and have shown really strong leadership in practices so far. Their experience and communication with our younger players will be essential to the team. We’ll have a better idea of what our positioning will be after our scrimmage and we’ll adjust accordingly heading into our season opener. The guys are working hard in practice, we feel like we have a team that can win some matches, and we’re all very excited for the start of the season,” said Garske.
The Chargers will host Division III powerhouse Enosburg on Wednesday in their season opener and will travel to Blue Mountain next Tuesday.