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2011 Fall Preview: Woodbury boys soccer team turns to young crop

The Royals go from a top contender in the state last year to a 2011-12 question mark as a new season gets under way.

"We will be very young," head coach Joe Quintavalle said.

The youngest, in fact, since he took the reins at Woodbury in 1992.

"We are so young, I am thinking of scheduling a team building field trip to Toys R Us," he joked.

This year's squad includes eight underclassmen on the varsity roster.

"Although we are young I think we have a lot of talent," Quintavalle said. "With the more game experience the younger players get throughout the season, I am hoping they will gain confidence at playing at the varsity level."

Woodbury turns to a crop of new faces as it moves on without 2011 graduate Eric Miller, who plays for Creighton University. Miller was Minnesota's Mr. Soccer and awarded Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year.

Quintavalle said other key departures include Ben Cherrey, Tyler Lo, Fernando Vargas and Jan Groth.

Despite the turnover, Quintavalle said the Royals will look to make an impact with midfielders and defense.

Senior Ben Sampson, a senior, is among returning players, coming off an all-conference 2010-11 season. Junior Mitch Leonard and sophomore Luke Hauswirth, both all-conference honorable mention winners last year, also return to the field.

Quintavalle said other key players this year include senior Davis Johnson, senior Adam Johnson, junior Bobby Kostidinov, senior Ryan Shook and senor Ryan Farrell. All five of those players bring varsity experience.

Up-and-comers for the 2011-12 season look to be freshmen Tanner Carlson and Jacob Simon, Quintavalle said.

The coach predicted Stillwater, Park and East Ridge will round out the top three this year in the Suburban East Conference. He said Stillwater, Central and East Ridge look to be the teams to beat come section tournament time.

The Royals kicked off conference play against East Ridge. They play rival Park Thursday, Sept. 8.