Most coaches say soccer games are won and lost in the midfield, and Central's John Andruss is no different.
Luckily for him, he has two of the best midfielders in Tampa Bay starting there again this season _ Sean O'Sullivan and Carlos Rodriguez.
O'Sullivan scored 12 goals and set a school record for assists (23) in a season last year. He and Rodriguez helped make Dave Bernard a 24-goal striker with their deft-passing and sharp ball-handling skills.
This season, the seniors will be expected to score a bit more themselves, which shouldn't be a problem and should fit well with Andruss' concept of balance.
"I don't know if anyone will score in numbers (like Bernard), but we should be balanced with (sophomore forward) Greg (Kirshy), (junior forward) Brett (Lorenzetti), Carlos and Sean," the coach said.
"We expect the outside mids to score, and we really shouldn't have to rely on one person," Andruss said. "We should have a dozen guys or so who score quite a few goals."
Springstead has at least one with those credentials _ junior midfielder Greg Emmerman _ but the problem for coach Sal Calabrese is, everyone knows it.
After starting for two seasons and notching 12 goals and 19 assists last year, Emmerman will get a lot of defensive attention.
"How Emmerman will do, I don't know," Calabrese said. "It'll be interesting.
"I hope (senior defender Eric) Loftsen can put some in, and we think (senior midfielder) Bobby Colon and (senior striker) Ian Haselbarth can score."
The Eagles have some major offensive production to replace. Stephen Bates won the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year award after scoring 25 goals last season.
Calabrese's defensive concept will be stressed again.
"If we have the ball and they don't, they can't score," he said.
Springstead will have one of the area's top returning goaltenders in junior Dan Calabrese, who had a 1.57 goals-against average and seven shutouts last season.
Staff writer Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, Ext. 1407. Send e-mail to brantsptimes.com.
ASSIGNMENTS CLASS 3A-7: Central, Leesburg, Mitchell, Ridgewood, Springstead.
CLASS 2A-7: Citrus, Crystal River, Hernando, Lecanto, North Marion.