In 2011, the Solon High School Comets posted their best season since switching to the Ohio 1 North East Region, reaching the State Semi Finals and winning 11 games. Comets Head Coach Hans Rydquist must replace 14 seniors, including seven defensive starters, in order to replicate their 2011 record-setting season during the 2012 campaign.
“We graduated most of our varsity team but I’m excited to see what our younger guys can do now that they are not being overshadowed,” said Rydquist. “In order to succeed, they have to believe how good they are and show it on the field.”
Rydquist is also looking for the younger players to step up into leadership roles. “During the offseason we will see which guys step up and become vocal in the locker room. Right now the younger guys are leading by example and hopefully that will continue throughout the season.”
The Comets may have lost most of last year’s starters but they still return a lot of talent. “We return a lot of scorers and dual-sport athletes,” said Rydquist. “We rotated a lot of the guys in and out of the lineup last year so they have experience.”
The team sees the return of senior Sean Smith and junior Sam Littman Jr. at attack. Smith, a strong finisher, is the team’s top goal scorer and Littman Jr. is a left-handed attackman who’s a quick dodger. Junior Jordan Rodriguez hopes to round out the attack unit and is currently the front runner for the third attack spot.
The offense runs through midfielders Drew and Tres Barksdale. Junior Drew Barksdale is the team’s second returning scorer and senior Tres was named First Team All-State in 2011.
Rydquist cites the brothers’ chemistry for their success. “They have a great sibling rivalry and keep pushing each other to do better. They’re both extremely passionate and feed off of each other’s emotions.”
The rest of the midfield is comprised of younger guys, including junior CJ Hanna. Hanna is coming off of shoulder surgery but is still expected to be the team’s main threat on faceoffs.
Senior Mike Lash will be the team’s starting long-stick midfielder and will be joined by juniors Brendan Gallagher and Ryan Pastor.
The biggest battle will be for the starting goalie position with three talented players - senior Josh Low, junior Tyler Longville and freshman Bryan Karn. Karn highlights an extremely talented freshmen class, who Rydquist expects to make a positive impact right away. “The freshmen class is one of the better classes we’ve had in a while and I definitely expect some freshmen to see some varsity playing time this season.”
Despite the youth-laden roster, Rydquist does not view this as a rebuilding year and expects the team to be better than last year. “I have complete faith in the talent we have as I prepare my players to step into the senior’s shoes when they graduate,” said Rydquist. “You look at the top teams and they reload right away. Last year was our best year and we are going to build on it.”