By Tim Kronenwetter
When I was asked to preview some of the upcoming high school season players, I was thinking how can I go about this and the answer was pretty easy: Pick my top XI.
Umm, well, not so easy but here goes anyway.
GK – I selected Mike Shatkin the 6’4″ goalie from Williamsville East. He played for the U16 Academy team from Empire. Will East will have a great goalie and a great striker as you will read, therefore team success is expected for the Flames. The other keeper I selected played on the Empire Buffalo U17 team this past season under Rudy Pompert of Buffalo State. Kevin Stuitje plays for Christian Central Academy. After training him a majority of the winter for Empire, I place him in the class of top goalies coming out next year.
DEF – Mitchell Cancilla plays for Canisius High School and has been a starter since ninth grade in that tough division. The other selection for defender comes from heated rival St Joe’s. Anthony Yarussi is another quality defender coming out for colleges next season. Both boys finished in first place with the U18 academy team in divisional play this year. Myles Taylor is the third player I will put in this position even though he was more of a midfielder for Williamsville South last season.
MID- Jack Smolarek is from Iroquois High School. His job this season will be withdrawn forward or attacking midfield to help another on this list score the goals for the Chiefs. Jerry West from Newfane makes the list as our No.2 middie. Newfane is not a soccer hot bed but this young man was quality enough to make academy for Empire. Look for some good things out in the Niagara Orleans league from this player.
Josh Beshaw is the only junior on the list. He plays in Lockport for one of the best high school teams that will be on the field in the 2012 season. Josh plies his trade in the offseason for Blackwatch. Last middie I will call out is Francesco Strangio from Niagara Wheatfield. Cesco has been Academy Level for years and will be going to Canisius College for the 2013 season.
FWD – Brandon Schick is a speedy forward who will be in the goal scoring race this season for Williamsville East. After leaving Empire Buffalo to Empire Rochester I expect his game to elevate even more as he looks at his college options. Alex Reid is my next choice. He should lead WNY in goal scoring out of Lockport. Alex is the most physically ready player for the college game. The last forward I will cover here is Eric Herberger. He plays at Iroquois and played on the U18 Buffalo squad under Kevin Brenner of Canisius College fame this summer and was very productive in State Cup competition.
Honorable mentions; Ryan Biggane [Empire Buffalo U18/Sweet Home], Andrew Ciminelli [Sweet Home], Brian Theuerkauf [Lancaster/Empire Buffalo U18], Matt Cordovani [Kenmore East/Blackwatch], Nick Sammarco [Lockport/Blackwatch], Justin Viengamy [Maryvale]
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Tim Kronenwetter is the goalie coach for Empire Buffalo and is the head coach for Silver Creek High School. He has been an assistant coach at Buffalo State as well as the head coach at Hilbert College. His coordination of the Exceptional Seniors event has him on top of most of the upcoming senior players in WNY.