Revere soccer team loaded with experience, expectations

 by Sheldon Ocker

The Revere soccer team hasn’t forgotten a 1-0 loss to Bay Village in last year’s Division II Regional final, costing the Minutemen a chance to win a state championship.

“We just didn’t get the ball to bounce our way, the way it ended,’’ said head coach Nick DePompei, as the Minutemen prepared to start the season at Norton Aug. 20. “These kids have been dreaming about a state title run since they were little, watching the kids above them. So I think we are very much locked in this year. It’s all business.’’

Motivation can be a powerful weapon, but ambition has to be abetted by talent and experience. In that regard, Revere is well positioned to win the Suburban League championship and overcome the rigors of the state tournament.

Twelve seniors dot the 22-man roster, and according to DePompei, these are not just any seniors. By his estimation, virtually all of them could start in other years.

Last year, DePompei said leadership of the team rested in the hands [feet?] of three players. This year will be different.

“There are 12 seniors, eight of which will start,’’ he said. “All 12 will play regular minutes because they are just that good. So it will be a different dynamic. … We will have an older presence, a more mature presence.’’

Revere’s soccer program is peaking. Sixty-six kids tried out for the team, “the most we’ve had in years,’’ DePompei said, adding that the Minutemen will field three teams: a junior varsity squad and a mostly freshman unit in addition to the varsity. “Other than Bay Village, I don’t know of many D-II public schools that can do that,’’ he said.

DePompei has to replace three starters from last year’s team, including Trevor Rorabaugh, the Division II Player of the Year in Ohio.

Despite a senior-dominated roster, DePompei expects sophomore forward A.J. Catlett to emerge as Revere’s scoring leader in his first year as a starter.

“He is kind of next in line to fill the shoes of Trevor,’’ the coach said. “He’s a pretty special talent, so he’s stepping into that role. He just has a knack for the goal; he looks to score. He has extremely good vision of the field and extremely good foot skills.’’

Senior defender Calin Milicia is a rarity in high school sports, a four-year starter. “If we kept track of it closely, he might have played the most minutes of any person [at Revere],’’ DePompei said.

Senior center forward Ryan Novak didn’t start last year, but “he’s another big one to watch,“ the coach said. “He’s changed things for us. There are a lot of good things coming from him.’’

Creating goal opportunities and taking over part of the scoring burden will be four seniors: Desi Johnston, Jack Morris, Jaden Yankovitz and Novak.

Speaking of Johnston, DePompei said, “He’s a pretty special kid as far as his vision of the field and his ability to distribute the ball. All four are completely unselfish players. They look to pass before they look to score.

Seniors Ryan Hodgson and Ryan Brown will start and play defense and midfield, and senior Ryan Cunningham will start in goal for his second season. Junior centerback Zach Iler will start for his second year, and junior Jeff Boyle will be a defensive starter.

DePompei expects Kent Roosevelt, Aurora and traditional rival Copley to provide Revere’s biggest hurdles in the Suburban League, but the coach is hoping a league championship is only the beginning.

“Even the youngsters that come up from the youth program know what it’s all about,’’ he said. “We want to play deep into November and play for a state championship, so we’re not really fazed by who it is or what team we’re playing.’’ ∞

Photo: Senior captian Calin Milicia.Photo submitted.