District 14 boys’ soccer teams took it to a new level last year, with four of the five teams ranked in the top 30 in the state at one point of the season.

It led to a competitive balance that saw fourth-seeded Bowling Green stun top-seeded Warren Central and eventual Region 4 champion South Warren having to survive a 1-0 battle with Greenwood just to get out of the District 14 Tournament.

Coaches expect another up-for-grabs season with all four teams once again looking to be in the mix.

“I think the past few years we definitely have one of the toughest districts in the state,” South Warren head coach Tom Alexander said. “Some other teams in the state have more difficult regions, but when it comes just from a district standpoint I think we are right up there with the top two or three districts in the state.”

South Warren lost six starters from last year’s region championship team but still returns plenty of experience.

Senior defenders Braedon Price and Semir Selimovic have been starters since sophomores, while the junior class – including midfielders Anthony Cano, Thang Khual and Luie Kogetsu – already know what to expect to compete in the district.

“The first goal we have every year is, ‘Let’s get out of district,’ ” Alexander said. “Once we get out of district, the goal is to win the region. If we win the region, the goal is to make a run at state. That’s the goal every year. That’s the culture now.”

Warren Central was the team to beat heading into the postseason, looking to add a second straight Region 4 crown. But those hopes were dashed with a 1-0 loss to the Purples, leaving the Dragons motivated to make amends in 2019.

Warren Central brings back seven starters – including midfielder Eh Moo, who according to head coach Aaron Ray has had a good offseason and has emerged as a team leader.

“(Last season) was a learning moment for everyone involved,” Ray said. “It’s effect on this season has been positive. I’ve seen a lot more guys put in extra work, making sure they are at practice early, and the attitudes have been a huge change from where they were last year. That’s definitely a positive we can take from last year.”

Bowling Green turned a tough regular season into a Cinderella postseason run, with four of the Purples’ seven wins last year coming in the postseason.

Plenty of the faces responsible for that run return.

Senior defender Naid Gagulic will look to provide senior leadership, with senior midfielders Byamungu Amisi and Alex Yusk also providing experience.

Sophomore Oscar Zoellner and senior Amran Linares split time at goalkeeper last season and will both be in the mix again this year.

“There are definitely some nice things to build on,” Bowling Green coach Scott Gural said. “Hopefully last year gave them a taste of success in the postseason. Hopefully they have been working hard to maintain that and build on it.”

Greenwood will look to build on last season’s winning season.

Nae Reh, second on the team in goals scored last season as a freshman, is among the returning starters for the Gators. Head coach Luis Llontop said this team has great chemistry that he thinks will pay dividends this season.

“It’s so hard to get out of our district and it usually ends up being two Bowling Green teams in the region final,” Llontop said. “Last year was a close (loss at the) end. It was a disappointment, not because the kids played bad but because we lost. I have been really satisfied with the progress the last few years and I think they have really bought into our style of soccer.”

While the top four teams battle it out, Warren East will try to break through.

The Raiders were 5-2-1 against nondistrict foes last season but have not won a district game since 2011 when the Raiders were in a district with Greenwood, Glasgow, Barren County, Hart County, Clinton County and Grayson County. To break that streak, the Raiders will have to fill the void left by Juan Duran, who scored 13 of the team’s 31 goals last season.{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.


Sports Writer. Cover prep sports, Hot Rods baseball, Titans football, and is the Daily News staff film critic.

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