NEWPORT–Last year players were hard to come by for the United Christian Academy boys soccer team.
This year they got all the players they could.
There are fourteen boys that range in grade from 8th-12th at UCA and they are all playing for coach Alyssa DeLaBruere this season.
Three eighth graders will make their debut for the team along with some of new international players, who are still stuck in Korea due to sever weather conditions.
The team lost just two players to graduation, so the group that is coming back is mixture of experienced veterans and some skilled youth, which bodes well for the Crusaders, as in the recent past they have been the ones on the younger side of the stick.
"I think we are going to be very competitive this year," said the coach. "We've set some really realistic but solid goals for ourselves, and it is nice going into a season knowing that even if you let one in, you are not necessarily going to lose the game."
One of the younger players that stands out is 8th grader Caleb DeLaBruere, who brings an excellent skill set to the team.
"Caleb has years and years of Wildcat experience, and he is very fast and has good footwork, so in the midfield he is going to be very valuable to me," coach DeLaBruere said.
Starting in goal is Chris DeLaBruere, who has made the full time commitment to the position after going in and out of the nets all last season.
On why he made the commitment to goal, DeLaBruere said, "We have a lot of strong offensive and defensive players out there so I thought if we are going to win we are going to need strong defense and goaltending and I am a stronger goalie than I am a player in the field, so that is why I wanted to play (goal) this year."
Getting the goaltending sured up eliminated one headache for the coach.
Having a solid core of returning defenders eliminated another.
"My defense is coming back intact and they have great chemistry together which is great," said coach DeLaBruere. "Paul Saaman will be the backbone of the defense playing sweeper, and he is just an all around great athlete, and Marc Quirion, my speaking captain, will be back there with him playing stopper."
Quirion was unanimously voted speaking captain this past spring for the leadership qualities he brings to the game.
"We have a younger team, so we need to focus on teamwork," said the captain on what will be key this season for the Crusaders.
On offense is where the coach is a little more concerned.
"Making stuff happen up front is what our goal is, we've got to work on our offense."
Senior Ji Kim will be one of the strikers attacking the opposition's with Sophomore Jon DeLaBruere flanking him on the left and freshman Justin Limoge to the right.
"Justin is a very talented soccer player, and he has come back bigger and stronger and I think Ji and Justin are going to have some good chemistry together.
"Jon just has a beautiful shot, he's got a great cross, and if he can get to the ball or if someone can get the ball to him, he can create some opportunities."
Dale Martell, now free of his goaltending duties, will be another source of offense as an "attacking" center-midi.
While they won't have their full roster with them this weekend, the team is set to host a soccer jamboree on Saturday at NCUJHS featuring teams from Cabot, Craftsbury as well as others, playing soccer all day long.
The official start to the season will commence next Thursday when the team travels to Cabot for a 5:00 showdown.