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Back row, from left: Maurice Morgan, Luis Capilla, Tyler Mullen, T.J. Balducci, Dillon Colbert, Levi Caldwell. Middle row, from left: Dylan Emge, Dylan Tiepelman-Albregts, Nathan Ryan, Riley Dulaney, Aaron Vaughn, A.J. Correa. Front row, from left: Raphael Buchwald, Carson Lebegue, Caleb Jacobs, Mitchell Ottinger, Jacob Love, Matthew McLaughlin. Photo by Danielle Williams

Zachary Kos, in his fourth season as the head men’s soccer coach at Troy Buchanan High School, thinks that the group he has for this season might be the best yet.

“This is my fourth season as head coach and this is the most talented group I’ve had,” Kos said.

It’s also a more mature team overall, heavy with seniors and juniors: players that are familiar with each other.

“We have six seniors and then we also round out with seven more juniors so really we are upperclassmen heavy this year, which hasn’t always been the case in the soccer program,” Kos said.

Kos’ team went 10-14 last season, which, although a losing season, is the best season Troy has mustered up in the past five years.

And from that team, Kos only lost three players, returning eight of the starters.

Kos also said that some of the junior varsity players have made the jump up and also that a few freshman impressed him in the pre-season, and would be on the varsity team.

Something Kos pointed out that stood out to him was the fact the 11 out of 18 players passed a difficult fitness test on the first day of pre-season, showing that they have been working towards that fitness level.

“That says guys are hungry, they’re ready to go. Sometimes, in the past, I had maybe 10 or 11 guys I could trust to put on the field. This year I think I could put all 18 of them in there at any time so I think when you have that sort of competitiveness, for only 11 starting spots, it makes practice very competitive and creates a culture of the guys working extremely hard everyday because they know if they don’t, they’re gong to get their spot taken,” Kos said.

As far as conference play goes, Kos is expecting his team to compete far more than they have in the past, and the goal that he has set for the team is to win a district title: a feat that the boy’s program has never achieved.

Troy will be relying on the production of Dylan Emge, who has been the top scorer for the past two years.

Emge had a hand in over 50  percent of Troy’s goals last year.

Two seniors that Kos has high expectations for are central midfielder Luis Capilla and defensive MVP and utility man Tyler Mullin.

“My expectations for this team are the highest I’ve had since I’ve been in this program,” Kos said.