Multiple Teams · Boys Soccer Preview


Royalton Ready For Anything

If you want to see how good North Royalton’s boys soccer team is going to be this season, just watch the second half of its games.  They will be the team that’s not tired.

First-year coach Jason Rutkowski and the Bears have been busy this summer, whether it’s on the field or the track, to make sure they have the energy to carry its conference title win streak over to its first year as a member of the Suburban League.

“I’ve been very encouraged by the improvements of work rate and defensive organization as an entire group,” he said.  “We have implemented fitness standards which have allowed us to begin playing the style we want.”

“With the improvements in those areas, we are excited about the ability to reduce our goals against average and create additional goal-scoring opportunities.”

Fresh off of back-to-back Northeast Ohio Conference River Division titles, North Royalton has 11 players back with two or more years of varsity experience as it competes in the new National Conference of the SL with Brecksville, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Nordonia, Stow, Twinsburg and Wadsworth.

A good portion of those veterans earned all-conference honors at forward or in the offensive midfield as well last fall, led by three-year player Brian Belz.  Belz is expected to play both midfield and at forward.

Fellow Senior Cory Smigel and juniors Evan Neczypor and Nathon Peterjohn each will see time at forward, along with junior newcomer David Haffner, making the Bears as deep as they come with potential scoring options.

“Our attacking players have made positive strides with creativity while working together,” Rutkowski said.  “We have skilled players that have experience along with goals scored in the previous seasons.”

Senior Evan Breyley and junior Byrce Zeleznik are expected to start in the midfield, while sophomore newcomer Jimmy Giles will also see time as a reserve.

Another three-year vet, senior Michael Mitchell, will anchor the backline, along with returnees like seniors Brad Harbart, Sean Martin, and junior Matiss Reineks.  Sophomore Ryan Newman is slated to start in goal, while newcomer Tyler Scattollini will come off the bench at defender.

What stands out to Rutkowski the most, however, is the focus that his team has when it comes to what they want out of the upcoming season.

“Standing out with the group of returning players and the amount of upperclassmen is the drive to reach seasonal goals that haven’t been reached in previous years,” he said.  “The daily amount of work and effort to work towards those goals has motivated the group and will continue to be the priority week to week to turn goals into expectations.”

And as for keeping the championship streak alive, the Bears know that it won’t be so easy in the balanced SL.

Rutkowski is no stranger to winning close games, however, as he was an assistant with Medina’s boys team during its most successful run that included a pair of regional appearances in 2012 and 13′.

“To make a run for the Suburban League title, we will have to play consistently well week to week,” said Rutkowski, whose staff also includes former Medina standout and assistant Joey Valeriano.  “There are several good programs within the conference where every game will be very challenging.”

Posted: Saturday, August 22, 2015
By DAN BROWN The Post Contributor