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    With nine returning starters, Chardon’s boys’ soccer team is trending up.

    The Hilltoppers won just four games last season, but the team returns virtually intact, and last years’ experience should pay dividends this fall.

    “The team is looking really good this year,” said third-year Chardon coach Mike Smith. “The goal is to keep improving as the season progresses. We have a lot of returning varsity players and should prove to be a tough opponent to go up against.”

    Chardon’s graduation losses both occurred in the midfield.

    “We are only leaving a few holes behind from last year,” Smith said. “Those holes will be from two senior midfielders, but I am confident the players we have now can play that position at a very high level.”

    Junior forward Sammy Tager returns after scoring 13 goals with two assists last season. Senior Midfielder Nathan Tager also was productive last season as he finished the year with six goals and three assists.

    “Sammy is a very explosive and shifty forward,” Smith said. “(Nathan) is a very strong and tactical player that can pass, shoot, and win headers at an elite level.

    Sophomores Carter Mack and Will Vucetic will create in the midfield. Mack finished his freshman season with two goals and three assists while Vucetic scored a pair of goals and assisted on five others.

    Juniors Jake Schneider and Keaton Zelazny will be counted on to lock down the defensive third.

    “(Schneider is a) really strong defender that can distribute the ball up the field,” Smith said. “Keaton is an all-around defender and hard to beat 1v1. He can win headers and always seems to position himself in the right spots to steal the ball from the opposition’s attackers.”

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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