New coach Andrew Kariotis hopes to boost Burrell boys soccer
When Andrew Kariotis found out the boys soccer coaching job at his alma mater, Burrell, was vacant, he likely was the first to jump in.
Kariotis, who coached the Riverview girls team for six seasons, will take over for Tony Trozzi, who resigned after last season.
“This is my first time coaching here since I was a player,” said Kariotis, a 1995 graduate.
“I'm excited. I let the superintendent know I was ready and willing. This will be different coaching boys, but I've been coaching these boys who are now in ninth grade since they started.”
Kariotis said he looks forward to the challenge of taking over for a team that went 3-8-1 in section play and 5-9-1 overall.
Ball possession figures to be a major part of the plan.
“When the other team doesn't have the ball, they can't score,” Kariotis said. “Keep possession as long as we can. Even though we're a smaller team, hopefully we can take away some of the advantages of the older teams by keeping the ball away from them.”
Burrell will be one of the area's younger teams with half of its 24 players being freshmen.
Kariotis will use the preseason to determine how early he would like the freshman to jump into varsity play. He wants the best people “on the field no matter what their age.”
Returning in goal will be three-year letterman Donovan Russell.
“He's a big goalie and a very skilled goalie,” Kariotis said.
“He kept us in a lot of games last year. Senior midfielders Zach Gimbel and Josh Halkias need to perform for us and keep the older players from the other teams under control.”
Added Russell: “I think we have a lot of new talent coming in. Our coach has a completely different play style than last year. Coach Trozzi did a fantastic job, but we're willing to try something new.”
Among the freshmen expected to contribute are Kariotis' son, Nicholas, along with Jacob Guerrini and Ian Smola.
Burrell doesn't have any nonsection games.
The Bucs will jump right into Section 2-AA play Sept. 5 at home against defending champion Freeport.
“Freeport's a fantastic team,” Russell said. “Especially early in last year's games, we kept with them. With the new schemes now, I feel we have a pretty good chance.”
Burrell expects to have a junior varsity team despite the top-heavy group of underclassmen.
“Some guys will have to go double-duty,” Kariotis said. “I'd rather see them get playing time than to not have it.”
One-time Burrell standout Brandon Daughtry will serve as an assistant along with James Croushore.
Burrell graduate Brian Shaw, who also was the football team's kicker during his playing days, is on board along with Matthew Potts, president of the Tri-City youth organization.
“We're practicing real well,” Russell said. “The main thing is to try to see it turn into actual wins.”
George Guido is a freelance writer.