32nd District boys soccer preview: Experienced Simon Kenton squad looks to 3-peat

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The boys’ soccer 32nd District provided a lot of parity last season as each team finished .500 or above with all recording at least one district win.

In the end, it was Simon Kenton repeating as district champ with a tight 3-2 victory over Grant County. With Williamstown still not listed on KHSAA as having a team, it looks like it will be a three-team district for the 2023 season.

Here’s a look at each team as the season begins on August 7.

Simon Kenton (9-9-4 in 2022)

Simon Kenton returns as the back-to-back 32nd District champion and has a wealth of experience returning as well.

Dominick Dornbusch brings his team leading 19 goals last season back while midfielders Andrew Petty, Draven Dean and Cole Garrett highlight the midfield, Garrett playing some defense as well.

“We have an experienced team with mostly junior and seniors on the roster.  Shouldn’t see too many things that will surprise us. It’s also a hard working group with very good leadership,” Pioneers coach Jeremy Wolfe said.

Miles Mullen played 21 games in goal last season as a freshman and recorded 100 saves with a 1.8 goals against average.

The Pioneers are looking for their first region tournament win since 2018 and a trip to Bowling Green over Labor Day weekend on September 2 to face Daviess County and Bowling Green should give them a good gauge of where they need to be.

They’ve won three of the last four district titles and an experienced squad returning off a challenging schedule should have them in the mix once again. Now they’ll look to take another step when it comes to region play.

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“They’ve steadily improved over the last two seasons. Most of the upperclassmen have been playing varsity for the last two seasons. Last year we finished 9-9-4 with a very competitive schedule,” Wolfe said.

Walton-Verona (11-8-3 in 2022)

The Bearcats are looking for their first 8th Region tournament appearance since 2013 and momentum is on their side after recording a second straight winning season in 2022.

Prior to the back-to-back seasons over .500, Walton-Verona won two games combined in 2019 and 2020. Despite the recent success, they’ll need to find a way to fill the void of nine seniors departed from last year’s team including their top two scorers in Arif Ceylan and Mateo Mains who combined to score 41 of the team’s 68 goals last season.

They do return Sam Kunkle in net, the senior recording 231 saves and a 2.4 goals against average in 22 games played last season. Mason Morwessel, Tyler Wolfe and Ailhan Ceylan return as the most productive players in the scoring department with 12 goals and 15 assists combined between the three. Trace Padgett also returns, one of the team’s top distributors with six assists last season. Head coach Jeremy Riggs also listed Logan Pronk and Drew Howe as some other players to watch.

“The best thing that has happened at practice is that everyone came to work. They all want to get better every day, and not just at an individual level but at a team level,” Riggs said.

The Bearcats also return as the 8th Region All “A” champion and will open up their title defense against Gallatin County on August 24. District contests take place on August 29 at Simon Kenton and hosting Grant County on September 14.

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Grant County (11-7-1 in 2022)

The Braves started strong last year with a 10-1-1 record, but finished 1-6 to close out the year, the final two losses a pair of one-goal setbacks to Simon Kenton in the district championship and 8th Region champ North Oldham in the 8th Region tournament quarterfinals.

Six seniors highlight the core of the team: Jacob Chischilly, Landon Griffith, Lane Griffith, Konnar Helton, Boston Traylor and Jackson Utter.

“We’ve got them mixed in throughout our lineup and we expect each of them to be very impactful for us,” Braves coach Dustin Smith said.

Helton is the returning leading scorer as they’ll need to find players to get the ball to the back of the net with the departures of Jacob Schultz (18 goals) and Caleb Coldiron (six goals) in 2022. They’ll also have to find someone in net with Nathan Kearns graduated after allowing just 1.2 goals against last season.

It’s been since 2018 when the Braves won the 32nd District and that remains the goal for the upcoming season. They’ve scheduled more 8th Region foes which includes district contests on September 7 against Simon Kenton and September 14 versus Walton-Verona.

Matchups with St. Henry, Cooper, Ryle and Beechwood to close out the season should have them prepped come postseason time.

“Our group this year is driven and committed. They come into every training and game with high standards for themselves and for one another,” Smith said. “It’s exciting to see their passion and accountability to always be better each day.”

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Williamstown (didn’t field a team in 2022)

Despite returning 15 of 18 from the 2021 KHSAA roster, the Demons didn’t field a team in 2022 and according to the KHSAA website, don’t look to be fielding one in 2023.

After winning a district title in 2020 and earning an 8th Region tournament semifinal appearance, Williamstown went 2-9 in 2021.

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