TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur soccer Bucs are ready to open their 2023 campaign Wednesday when they host the Morgantown Mohigans in a non-conference clash at 6 p.m.
Mike Donato, starting his 15th year as the head coach of the soccer Bucs, was pleased with what he saw from his young team during the preseason.
“Overall, our preseason went well,” stated Donato. “The team went through a lot of challenges, fitness and skill evaluations and did a great job of pushing through and helping each other. We threw a lot of new things at our players, and they really stepped up.”
For the Bucs to break their two-year slide of being under .500, they are going to have to rely on a youthful team that has 11 underclassmen on it including seven freshmen of a roster of 21.
That’s not to say there isn’t a strong returning nucleus in the form of Second Team-All Conference performer in junior midfielder Christian Dowell. Dowell tallied three goals and three assists last year.
Also returning is senior Dirk Riley who will serve as a co-captain along with Dowell.
Junior forward Tim Snyder is the top returning scorer for the Bucs as he scored six goals to go along with one assist.
The Bucs will also have to replace First Team All-Conference keeper Dalton Auvil who graduated in the spring. That task will fall to junior keeper Slaton Kowalkoski.
Donato put his team through the paces with a scrimmage against Parkersburg last week then attended the Brooke Soccerama this past weekend. The Bucs fell at Parkersburg then beat Weir, 1-0, and lost to Steubenville (Ohio), 2-0, at the Brooke scrimmage. Their exhibition match with Washington at Brooke was canceled due to the weather.
“Our scrimmages were very challenging, but we needed those challenges to prepare us for our tough schedule,” noted Donato. “Parkersburg is a favorite to come out of their region and they exposed some flaws in what we wanted to do, but we spent time after that making adjustments and played much better at the soccerama. At the soccerama, we challenged our freshman to step up and really show that they belong at the varsity level, and they did, particularly during our second game against Weir. We’re asking a lot out of that group, and they have done well stepping up.”
The Bucs will have a tough opener against perennial power Morgantown on Wednesday.
“Morgantown always manages to put together a strong squad,” remarked Donato. “Coach Sam Snyder is a quality coach and will have his guys prepared. From what I’ve scoured they are very strong defensively and have had some impressive showings in their scrimmages.”
Donato didn’t give a starting line-up for the opener saying there are still starting spots to be earned by the players.
“We still have a few positions open regarding who will start, but we will see how that shakes out,” concluded Donato. “Right now, we’re looking to run out of a 4-4-2 formation, but final positions are still being determined.”
Following their opener, they will return to action Friday at Greenbrier East for a 6 p.m. start.
2023 B-U Soccer Roster
Owen Cutright (Defense)
Ethan Dowling (Midfield)
Cory Harris (Defense)
Camden Carpenter (Midfield)
Christian Dowell (Midfield)
Slaton Kowalkoski (Goalie)
Kyle McCann (Midfield)
Tim Snyder (Forward)
Zander Swearengin (Goalie)
Ayden Cottrill (Midfield)
Elisha Lewis (Defense)
Tre Shackleford (Midfield)
Michael Tracy (Midfield)
Riel Figueroa (Forward)
Jimmie Green (Forward)
Brady Hommema (Defense)
Kaleb Kowalkoski (Goalie)
Nicholas Rizo (Midfield)
Coby Smith (Midfield)
Deacon Thorne (Defense)
2023 B-U Soccer Schedule
Aug. 16 – Morgantown, 6 p.m.
Aug. 18 – at Greenbrier East, 6 p.m.
Aug. 22 – Wheeling Park, 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 – Webster County, 6 p.m.
Aug. 29 – at Lincoln, 8 p.m.
Aug. 31 – at Preston, 8 p.m.
Sept. 5 – North Marion, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 – at Grafton, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9 – at Princeton, 12 p.m.
Sept. 12 – Woodrow Wilson, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 – at Fairmont Senior, 8 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Brooke, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 – at East Fairmont, 8 p.m.
Sept. 21 – Robert C. Byrd, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 – Philip Barbour, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 – at Huntington, 12 p.m.
Oct. 3 – Bridgeport, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 – at Lewis County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 – University, 10 a.m.
Oct. 11 – Elkins, 7:30 p.m.