Young Hawks building for strong finish
Viera High junior co-captain Andrew Madlener (with ball) is one of the talented players up front who can make things happen for the Hawks this season.
photo by Carl Kotala
A young roster means the Viera High boys soccer team will have a slightly different look this season.
But if the Hawks can pull it together over the course of the season, they have a chance to be the kind of team you don’t want to face in the playoffs.
“I think with a lot of work, the team could be really good,” senior co-captain Ian Spradlin said. “(We have) lots of young talent. Sometimes, it can be difficult with a younger team, but the younger kids that are on the team now seem mature. They’ve filled the shoes well.”
Viera graduated six seniors from last year’s team, which led highly favored Melbourne 1-0 at the half in last year’s district semifinals before eventually falling to the Bulldogs.
But while the Hawks are hoping to build off that performance this season, they will have to do better than they did in an early-season district loss to Heritage.
“That (Melbourne game) was the first sense for this group of boys that we could compete with them, that we could be there at the end of the season,’ Viera coach Nick Robinson said after the Heritage loss.
“They needed that. But maybe they needed this, too. It’s a wake-up call for sure.”
Robinson, who joined the Viera staff last season, has taken over the program from Cory Collins.
With a roster that features three freshmen and three sophomores, this year’s team will have to play a different style than the Hawks did last year.
“I would say we’re a better footballing team this year,” Robinson said. “Last year, it was a lot of athleticism. Everything that we had to do was based on athleticism and physicality. This year, it’s going to have to be a little bit more composure on the ball, taking our time, executing technically.
“We’ve got three good players up top that can make things happen. That’s going to be a big thing for us, making sure they get the ball.”
Those three are senior Charlie McHale, junior co-captain Andrew Madlener and sophomore Nathan Brooker.
The Hawks should also be strong in the back with Spradlin and Ryan Szymkowiak playing in front of goalkeeper Max Pacheaco.
Expect Viera to get stronger as the season goes along, the team adjusts to its new style of play and the younger players gain some valuable experience.
“It’s going to take some time,” Robinson said. “I think it’s going to be similar to last year. A young team, it took us a little while to gel and get a feel for each other. This year is going to be just like that.”