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Panthers embark on 2014 soccer season
by E. Marcel Pourtout
mpourtout@neighbornewspapers.com
March 12, 2014 10:27 AM | 706 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>Chapel Hill junior Armando Gallardo controls the ball during an indoor practice last Thursday.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Chapel Hill junior Armando Gallardo controls the ball during an indoor practice last Thursday.
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Coming off a region championship and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs last season, the Chapel Hill boys’ soccer team has begun the rebuilding process for the 2014 campaign.

“We have a younger roster so there has been a learning curve this season,” third-year head coach Richard Williams said. “We lost 10 seniors from last year’s team and have current players that are figuring out their role on this team.”

The Panthers have had highlights this season, including consecutive shutout victories over Westlake and Jackson (Atlanta) on Feb. 20 and 25.

The squad also has struggled at times during the early portion of the year, dropping contests to fellow Douglas County programs Lithia Springs and Alexander along with region opponent Callaway in a 6-5 loss on March 7.

Chapel Hill runs a 4-2-3-1 formation using four defenders. Junior Jamar Gross and freshman Jesus Suastegui have led that unit for the Panthers.

“Jamar is normally a striker but has picked up playing defense and is a natural,” Williams said. “Jesus has also never played defense but has been strong for us.”

Senior Malik Watler and Cody Harrison are also defenders contributing for the squad.

Williams also has high praises for junior goalkeeper Tariq Donovan along with two midfielders; junior Armando Gallardo and freshman Zach Riehl.

“Tariq is on his way to being an all-region goalkeeper while Armando and Zach are going to get stronger together with more practice,” the coach said.

Williams has been with the Panthers’ program for four seasons and notes the positive changes that have taken place.

“When I first got here, we had to dismiss several starters due to discipline,” he said. “Our current upperclassmen saw that and the behavior has improved. They’ve been great students and represent our school well.”

Chapel Hill will return to action on Friday at East Paulding.

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