Yorkville had a disappointing ending last season in the playoffs after enjoying an especially dominant campaign.
The Foxes went 15-2-2 and outscored their opponents, 61-19, while winning conference.
“We can’t try to match last season’s magic,” Foxes coach Andrew Johnson said. “We just need to stay focused on trying to create new magic this year.
“Our style of play will look different and we have nearly an entirely new starting lineup so our guys will have to quickly realize this is a new year and that’s OK.”
Steve Ramirez (five goals, two assists) and Jackson Torok (eight goals, four assists) were both first team all-conference selections from a season ago. They return along with Jeremy Schwarz (four goals, two assists), Peyton Frankenreider (two goals) and keeper Ben Schafermeyer (17 goals allowed/1.3 goal per game).
They’ll also have some young impact-makers joining the squad.
“We’re bringing up a lot of sophomores, at least six of them,” Johnson said.
“Most notable is midfielder Edgar Barrientos. Then, we have several guys from last season who will be seeing much bigger minutes this year.”
That includes seniors Tony Firrantello, Chris Gruener and Mario Hinojosa.
Yorkville opens its season Aug. 21 at Plainfield Central. Its first home game is Sept. 5 against Sycamore.
One of the Foxes biggest strengths will be their athleticism and dynamic play potential.
“We will have more speed than we’ve ever had as well,” Johnson said. “Our two biggest weaknesses will be that potential. If guys aren’t focused and also taking care of their bodies day in and day out, then that potential won’t come to the surface when needed.
“Our other weakness is getting everyone to come together. We are going to have a much different makeup this year, so guys are going to quickly have to get to know each other, respect one another’s differences and find a common goal to rally around all season.”
Schwarz said he’s not worried about the Foxes finding the back of the net, despite losing half the team to graduation last year.
“I feel a lot of the people on the team this year gave us solid offense last year so I feel good about that,” he said. “I know we lost 13 out of 26 who were seniors last year so losing in the playoffs was rough for them, but I had a conversation afterward with a few of them and they said to just keep your head up and try to win a playoff game next season.”
The key is not looking too far ahead, especially since the Foxes were so dominant last year that their conference opponents will certainly be targeting them.
“I think DeKalb was probably our biggest opponent and they’ll be back at us this year,” Schwarz said. “Sycamore should be pretty good and Kaneland always sneaks up. I think it’ll be competitive.”
With a lot of new faces replacing the grads, the Foxes will need to get to know each other quickly if they hope to have similar success as they did in 2016. That could be a challenge since some teams succeed in doing that quickly while others never reach that point.
“I think the biggest thing is communication so the team leaders need to push everybody,” Schwarz said. “From the summer league games it was pretty rough because so many players were new and we need to learn each other’s playing style.”