Tonawanda News — Last season already seems like a dream for the Tonawanda boy's soccer team.
That tends to happen when a squad losses 11 players to graduation, eight of which were starters for the B1 champion Warriors.
News' Player of the Year Phil Giuga and Jake Choate are gone, but leading scorer Nate Holler is back and Warriors coach James Gabor said the team is looking to the junior to lead the way for the team this season.
"He definitely is the guy we'll look to for a lot of things this year: leadership and making things happen," Gabor said. "I think he is aware of that and knew that coming into the season. He's embracing it and doing a good job. It makes him work a little bit harder because he'll have more responsibilities."
Gabor said defending the title is going to be even more difficult because the Warriors have a bullseye on their back.
"We're going to be a lot younger and inexperienced, but teams aren't really going to know that until they come out and play us," Gabor said. "They'll prepare for us with the mindset that these guys were the sectional champs last year. Teams will have it out for us this year and it'll be a different group of kids out there that will try and protect that title."
Back between the pipes is Jesse Bortz, who took over for senior Cory Compeau late last season and played well throughout Tonawanda's playoff run.
Gabor said he's seen even more improvement from Botrz already this season.
"Last year Jesse got called upon at the end of the year and he played better than anyone could have asked," Gabor said. "He stepped up and I've noticed this year he's looked like he's even improved this year."