The Thunder Mountain High School boy’s soccer team has a new head coach, a new philosophy and 10 returners, which all could translate into an impactful year for the Falcons on the pitch.
“Initially, I was impressed by how close-knit and supportive this group were of each other,” first year head coach Troy Choquette said. “They all want to work hard and improve their skills individually and as a team. After several challenging training sessions I found that they also possessed great potential both physically and mentally for immediate growth.”
Choquette, a 2000 Juneau-Douglas graduate, played college soccer at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., returning to Juneau after graduation in 2005. He coached for the Juneau Soccer Club for nine years. He also coached for the Alaska Olympic Development Program for three years. He currently hold a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National D Coaching License.
“The philosophy we are implementing with our team consists of being confident and comfortable in possession,” Choquette said. “We want to be aggressive and highly competitive on both sides of the ball while maintaining a positive and diligent team mentality.”
Thunder Mountain graduated seven seniors last season and returns 10 players who found starting time. With coach Choquette’s analysis included they are:
Senior midfielder and co-captain Rafael Sales, a strong competitor who is multi-talented; Senior defender and co-captain Zachary Gianotti, who has a relentless work rate and focus; Senior defender Patrick Andes, an ultimate team player and leader who supplies constant effort and support; Junior forward Kevin Andes who possesses great pace and is an intuitive and highly aggressive striker; Junior midfielder Patrick Escorrido (Esco), a great ball handler, with intelligence, creativity and great speed; Junior defender Konnor Mueller, a fearless defender with a high work rate; Junior midfielder Shane Kelly, a creative and confident presence, a talented attacker with a great shot; Sophomore goalkeeper John Seymour, young but could be one of the best keepers in the state, vocal and experienced; Sophomore forward Jeremiah Stephens, and exciting and explosive attacker, creative and very fast; and Sophomore midfielder Jonah Fischer, an experienced, confident and creative player.
After a year away from the game senior Matt Seymour will be an impact player.
“He possesses incredible drive and coachability,” Choquette said. “And he is highly motivated.”
Junior Will Martin will also be instrumental as he is a physical athlete who plays midfield, defense and in the goal.
The Falcons were 3-11-1 last season, going 0-4 against Juneau-Douglas, 0-3-1 against Ketchikan, 0-3 against Anchorage teams, 1-1 against Fairbanks squads and 2-0 against Sitka.
The Falcons soccer program also includes: seniors Justine Soriano (midfield); Junior Liam Idell (defender, midfield); Sophomores Andrew Clark (defender), Ben Garrett (defender), Thomas Hart (defender) and Ian McAndrews (defender); and freshmen DeAndre-Harlem King (defender), Luis Lozada (midfield), Jordan Milligan (midfield), Sam Nolan (midfield), Mahina Toutaiolepo (forward), Kaiden Ward (forward) and Jacob Watson (forward).
Assistant coaches are Tim Lewis and Chris Frank and goalkeeping coach Skye Stekoll.
“Now that we have a month of training under our belt, I am very optimistic with the continued development of our players,” Choquette said. “They are showing great effort and focus as we are going in to our first competitive games of the season.”
The Falcons open the season tonight against Eagle River at 6:15 p.m. at the TMHS Field. The JDHS girls will play the Eagle River girls at 8 p.m. at TMHS. All games orginally scheduled for Adair Kennedy Field have been moved to Thunder Mountain due to icy field conditions. On Saturday the JDHS boys play Eagle River at 10 a.m. at TMHS Field, the JDHS girls play ER at 4:30 p.m. at TMHS, and the TMHS boys play ER at 6:15 p.m. at TMHS.