Austin Hughes

Providence's Austin Hughes holds off Jeffersonville's Jacob Clemons for possession during the Pioneers' 3-2 road victory on Sept. 23, 2017.

CLARKSVILLE — Providence appears to be picking up right where it left off last season. 

The Pioneers went 12-7-3, winning their sixth straight sectional title and second regional in a row before falling 2-0 to Covenant Christian in the Class A Lawrenceburg Semistate in 2017.

With several key contributors — including NTSPY Player of the Year Austin Hughes — back from that squad, Providence is off to 3-0 start. The Pioneers have outscored North Harrison, Christian Academy of Louisville and Corydon Central by a combined score of 14-1. 

“Honestly it’s gone according to plan. We’ve got in a couple of new guys so we’re all meshing,” said Hughes, a senior midfielder who has five goals and four assists in the first three games. “It’s a promising start. … Once we got past the preseason, the two weeks without a game you kind of drudge through and you lose focus. Now that we’re in-season, everyone’s on the same page, everyone’s motivated just as equally. It’s shown so far.”

Hughes is one of eight seniors inherited by new coach Jake Stengel. The 2005 Providence graduate was an assistant the past two years. 

“Luckily we’ve got a good group of seniors, good leadership and we’ve got good numbers in every class,” Stengel said. “The boys have been really dedicated to get on board with a new coach and a new system and all that. And they’re really excited to get the season going. We have a lot of potential and [a] good schedule this year, so we’re looking forward to the season kind of getting going here.” 

A big key this season will be “tactically, defense,” according to Hughes. 

“Because that was the biggest change from last year to this year. We lost two or three seniors, just defenders,” he added. 

The Pioneers’ defense will likely be put to the test this week. Providence, which is ranked No. 4 in Class A, will host 3A No. 14 Floyd Central at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night and Class A No. 7 Covenant Christian, the team that ended the Pioneers’ 2017 season, at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

“I’m really excited to see them continue to get better, that’s the goal,” Stengel said. “That’s what we try to teach them in training and practice, ‘Get better every single day — work hard, give a good positive attitude and we’ll see where we go to at the end.’” 

TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS

CHARLESTOWN

• HEAD COACH: Cristian Martinez (second season).

• LAST SEASON: 6-8-1, lost 2-1 to North Harrison in the Class 2A Scottsburg Sectional semifinals.

• KEY LOSSES: Sergio Bolanos (F), Anthony Carey (M), Dalton Bowen (D), Demetrio Ortuno, Jr. (M), John Kinser (D).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Andrew Mattingly (M, Sr.); Ian Flora (M, Sr.); Matt Parrella (GK, Sr.); Austin Cooper (RD, Sr.); Eric Sipes (D, Sr.); Ali AlBawi (Sr.); Gryphon Brading (D, Jr.); Cameron Hawkins (D, Jr.); Aric Hooker (GK, Jr.); Bryce Wray (RF, Jr.); Michael Jewell (RF, Jr.); Jackson Melton (Jr.); Logan Alsept (Jr.); Mohammad Albawi (Jr.); Park “Jay Bee” Junbeom (Jr.); Pascual Gonzalez (So.); Ashton Walden (LD, So.); Kameron Kimmel (M, So.); Joseph Jensen (So.); Hunter VanGilder (So.).

• NEWCOMERS: Elijah Cooley (Fr.); Andrew Cruz (Fr.); Connor Aaron (Fr.); Micah Keltner (Fr.); Steven Cruz (Fr.); Tristan Nethery (Fr.).

• OUTLOOK: The Pirates graduated last season’s leading scorer — Bolanos (13 goals, 6 assists) — but return second-leading scorer Mattingly (8 goals, 9 assists last year) along with Wray (4 goals, 3 assists), Andasol (4 goals, 6 assists), Brading (2 goals, 2 assists)

• MARTINEZ SAYS: The goal is “to win the sectional.”

.

CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

• HEAD COACH: Paul Deary (third season).

• LAST SEASON: 6-7-3, lost 2-0 to Providence in the Class A CAI Sectional final.

• KEY LOSSES: Declan Hamm (M); Marcello Gelsomini (D).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Max Samourian (D, Sr.); Kevin Ballew (GK, Sr.); Coby Banet (M, Sr.); Dylan Hancock (M, Sr.); Carson Kastensmidt (M, Sr.); Devin Mielke (D, Sr.); Levi Doty (D, Sr.); Gabe Marshall (M, Jr.); Christopher Carter (D, Jr.); Josh Hahn(D, Jr.); Christopher Ballew (M, Jr.); Elias Rightnowar (So.); Drew Castanon (F, So.); Brandon Hodge (F, So.); Yonelson Alvarez (So.); Jackson Akers (D, So.); Chris Lee (Fr.), Keegan Doherty (Fr.), Luke McCarty (Fr.), Alex Pinkston (Fr.), Lane Hancock (Fr.), Carlos Darrull (Fr.), Phillip Lopez (Fr.), Kamari Thompson (Fr.), Landon Kahafer (Fr.), Hunter Webb (Fr.). 

• OUTLOOK: The Warriors lost Hamm, who scored 26 goals last year, to graduation but they return 15 varsity players off a squad that outscored its foes 49-29 last season. The top-returning goal scorers are Dylan Hancock (6 goals), Kevin Ballew (3 goals) and Kastensmidt (3 goals). Ballew, Samourian and Banet are the team captains. Freshman Lane Hancock should be a key newcomer.

• DEARY SAYS: "We have an optimistic outlook for our season. We are hoping that our more experienced players deliver well this season. Grateful to have seven seniors and that provides good experience both on, and off, the pitch. Excited about our incoming freshman class this year as well. We are bound to have a couple standouts from them as well. And, our juniors and sophomores bring great pace and strength to our overall unit.”

.

FLOYD CENTRAL

• HEAD COACH: Tim Rice (sixth season).

• LAST SEASON: 10-3-1, lost 3-1 to eventual champion Columbus East in the first round of the Class 3A Seymour Sectional.

• KEY LOSSES: Landon Tak (D); Brandon McGeorge (D); Danny Flores (M); Jordan Bales (M), Conner Kantz (M); Jacob Cash (M).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Connor Burke (S, Sr.); Dane Parker (GK, Sr.); Riley Thompson (D, Sr.); Alex Anderson (Sr.); Hasten Blaylock (Sr.); Lucas Eichenberger (Sr.); Dalton Lee (Sr.); Jason Menne (Sr.); Garrett Rice (Sr.); Kelby Rippy (Sr.); Isaac Smallwood (Sr.); Caleb Yankey (Sr.); Drew Cromwell (Jr.); Pablo Flores (Jr.); David Garner (Jr.); Amin Kibrom (Jr.); Xander Ochsner (M, Jr.); Kyle Rippy (Jr.); Garrett Sekelsky (Jr.); Chaz Hubbs (So.); Ashton Ochsner (So.); Jeevan Sivahmohan (So.); Tyler Werner (So.).

• OUTLOOK: The Highlanders, who feature 12 seniors and return eight starters led by Burke and Parker, had a 0.8 goals against average last season. Floyd Central has another tough schedule, especially in the first half of the season, that includes Columbus East, Bloomington South and Louisville powers Trinity, St. Xavier and Ballard. “Our hope is that it will prepare us for a long run in the postseason,” Rice says. “Our depth and talent will be tested, but that puts us in a great position to learn a lot about our team very quickly.”

• RICE SAYS: "From top to bottom this will be our most talented group of players in the last six years. And there is not much drop-off from our number one guy to our number 25 guy. Another great trait with this group is they are close and all like one another, so the team chemistry should be a positive from the beginning.”

.

HENRYVILLE

• HEAD COACH: John Harris (sixth season).

• LAST SEASON: 9-6-1, lost 2-0 to Providence in the Class A CAI Sectional semifinals.

• KEY LOSSES: Chris Buysman (F); Kasey Roberstson (F); Caleb Branham (M); Gavin Guernsey (M), Thomas Green (GK); Trevor Badger (D).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Kade Badger (F, Sr.); Tanner Cook (D, Sr.); Troy Alequin (D/M, Sr.); Andrew Goines (D, Sr.); Rachel Wells (GK, Sr.); Logan Owens (M, Jr.); Drake Dukes (D/F/GK, Jr.); Jayke Youell (F/D, Jr.), Cody Wallis (GK, So.); Austin Conteras (So.); Parker Rappe (So.); Mackenzie Cavannaugh (So.); Ezmeralda Ruiz (So.); Chase Clements (So.); Carlos Avila (So.).

• KEY NEWCOMERS: “A solid young core will add depth to the program,” Harris says.

• OUTLOOK: The Hornets lost their top two goal scorers (Buysman, 19 goals; Robertson, 16 goals) from last season to graduation, but return six starters — Badger, Dukes, Youell, Owens, Conteras, Alequin — from last year. Kade Badger (11 goals, 5 assists) is the team’s top returning scorer. Owens (4 goals) was the team’s fourth-leading goal-scorer last year. Cook is the leader of the defense.

• HARRIS SAYS: "Team unity is at an all-time high. After losing two of the area’s leading scorers and assist leaders our game plan has shifted to incorporate our current strengths.”

.

JEFFERSONVILLE

• HEAD COACH: Paul Duckworth (first season).

• LAST SEASON: 8-6-3, lost 1-0 to Seymour in the first round of the Class 3A Seymour Sectional.

• KEY LOSSES: Kurtis Kimmel (M), Carlos Arredondo (M), Ulises Palacios (D).

• RETURNING VARSITY PLAYERS: Jacob Clemons (M, Sr.); Seth Scott (GK, Sr.), Vadim Capacli (RW, Sr.), Marco Morales (LW, Sr.), Leonel Esparza (M, Sr.), Brennan Zastawny (F, Sr.); Caleb Sorrells (D, Sr.); Luke Thompson (D, Sr.).

• OUTLOOK: The Red Devils lost some key players, including Kimmel and Arredondo, from a solid team, but they return eight valuable members from last season's squad who will help lead the way this fall.

• DUCKWORTH SAYS: "It will be a slow start, but fortunately we don’t play the teams in our sectional until later in the season, so we should be fully up to speed by then. I am familiar with many of the players, having coached them in the past at Southern Indiana United. I am confident that we will be up for those games and am quietly confident that we will again have a successful season.” 

.

NEW ALBANY 

• HEAD COACH: Josh Dickman (third season as head coach, fourth overall).

• LAST SEASON: 11-6, lost 4-0 to Columbus North in the first round of the Class 3A Seymour Sectional. 

• KEY LOSSES: Max Hancock (D), Eder Moran (M), Matheo Urrego (M), Mario Moran (D), Erik Kluepleberg (GK), Ethan Kruer (GK).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Blake Hanen (D, Sr.); Israel Lazaro (Sr.); Joaquin Naranjo (Sr.); Luis Lopez (Sr.); Zion Graf (Sr.); Aspen Condra (Jr.); Cameron Embry (Jr.); Hayden Krebs (Jr.); Ivan Resendiz (M, Jr.); Jose Moran (Jr.); Kolt Kaiser (D, Jr.); Noah Litzelswope (M, Jr.); Schnaider Upchurch (F, Jr.); Gabe Kruer (M, So.); Fernando Moran (Fr.); Luis Moran (Fr.); Quincy Rainey (GK, Fr.). 

• OUTLOOK: The Bulldogs return several key players from last year’s team led by Hanen, Litzelswope and Upchurch. 

.

PROVIDENCE 

• HEAD COACH: Jake Stengel (first season as head coach).

• LAST SEASON: 12-7-3, won sixth straight sectional title and second consecutive regional title before losing 2-0 to Covenant Christian in the Class A Lawrenceburg Semistate. 

• KEY LOSSES: Shane Hesse (D), Michael Gil (D), Jake Miller (D).

• RETURNING VARSITY PLAYERS: Isaac Coker (M, Sr.); Austin Hughes (M/F, Sr.); Joe Gryboski (D, Sr.); Sam Kruer (D, Sr.), Blaine Henretty (D, Sr.), Emmanuel Zarate (M, Sr.), Alex Lancaster (F, Jr.); William Lutgens (M, Jr.), Luke Hesse (D/F, So.); Evan Scott (M, So.), Jacob Braswell (GK, So.), Zach Aurilio (GK, So.). 

• KEY NEWCOMERS: Ryan Drury (M, Jr.), Carson Happel (D, Jr.), Will Jenkins (M, Jr.), Billy Hoke (F, Fr.).

• OUTLOOK: The Pioneers lost several key players across their backline and from their midfield, but return their top three scorers in Hesse, Hughes and Lancaster. “This year’s team will look to improve their record against local rivals and challenge themselves with a A schedule that includes state finalist Covenant Christian and Top 20 team, Vincennes Rivet,” Stengel says. “Providence will be looking to contend for another sectional and regional championship.” 

• STENGEL SAYS: "I am beyond excited for the opportunity to coach this group of players at Providence High School. They have shown great leadership and have a tremendous level of talent from the senior class, all the way through incoming freshmen. We have a large group of players that are eager to challenge themselves and their teammates to make our group the best that it can be. We need to continue to train and improve every day in order to reach our full potential.” 

.

ROCK CREEK

• HEAD COACH: Donny Kannapel (first season).

• LAST SEASON: 1-10, lost 3-1 to Austin in the first round of the Class A CAI Sectional. 

• KEY LOSSES: Jackson Beckman (S), Tanner Barker (D).

• RETURNING VARSITY PLAYERS: Tyler Whobrey (M, Sr.); Mason Masters (GK, Sr.), Tyree Blackburn (D, Sr.), Brendan Kane (D/M, Sr.), Conner Floyd (D, Sr.), Kevin Monkham Meyer (S/M, Jr.), Ray J. Johnson (F, Sr.), Jamel King (D, Jr.), Payton Dethy (D, Sr.).

• KEY NEWCOMERS: Josh Knuckles (D/M, Jr.), Brian Barnes-Davies (M/D, Jr.), Gavin Gullion (M/D, Fr.), Ian Sleepe (D, Fr.), Zach Stricker (D/M, Fr.), Anthony Steimer (D/M, Jr.), Erica Vaughn (M/F, Fr.).

• OUTLOOK: The Lions, who return six starters from last season, look to build off of 2017. They equaled their win total from last year with their 3-2 victory over Lanesville this past Saturday. Monkham Meyer was injured last year and didn’t play.

• KANNAPEL SAYS: "They’re all great kids and I expect them to improve as the season progresses. We should be competitive in most games, and I feel we’ll win our share.” 

.

SILVER CREEK 

• HEAD COACH: Colin Bell (eighth season).

• LAST SEASON: 12-7-2, won first sectional before losing 5-0 to eventual state champion Evansville Memorial in the Class 2A Heritage Hills Regional final. 

• KEY LOSSES: Keaton Goss (F), Anmol Ghale (F), Nick Meriwether (M), Tre Gonzalez (M), Kyle Brock (D), Dhanika Jayawardana (M).

• VARSITY PLAYERS: Ethan Eckert (MF, Sr.); Jacksen Eddy (D, Sr.); Luke Lehmenkuler (M, Sr.); Ty Kessinger (D, Sr.); Michael Thompson (M, Sr.); Austin Gross (M, Sr.); Charlie Weber (D, Sr.); Jack Gleason (GK, Jr.); Jason Hernandez (D, Jr.); Vincent Winkler (F, Jr.); Georgi Ganchev (F, Jr.); Max Compton (D, Jr.); Joshua Lewis (F, Jr.); Ryan Shields (M, Jr.); Logan Coots (D, Jr.); Aron Guerrero (M, Fr.)

• OUTLOOK: The Dragons lost six to graduation, including their top two goal scorers in Goss (16) and Ghale (9), from the team that captured the program’s first-ever sectional title. Eckert (8 goals, 8 assists) is the top-returning scorer for a team that averaged 2.6 goals per game last year. Gleason, who recorded 124 saves last season, returns to man the goal. The Dragons were dealt an early blow when Kessinger suffered a broken nose 20 minutes into their second match of this season. 

• BELL SAYS: "We have goals that we are wanting to reach this season. We brought back a solid core of starters and key role players. Everyone will need to step up and play a larger role. The players need to buy into our system and discipline in order to be successful. Practices have been challenging and endlessly competitive, which is a great sign. I’m looking forward to another successful campaign."