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Boys soccer preview: Depth a concern with lack of experience returning

Rosemount boys soccer coach Mike Floersch knows how important team depth can be.

The Irish had to use all of their depth last season when a string of injuries and absences hit the team.

Floersch never felt his team could find its consistency.

Developing depth will be a key for Rosemount again this season, especially early on.

"I really like to make sure players are in the right position at the beginning of the season," Floersch said. "They're not in shape yet, at least not in the shape you expect to play at the varsity level. And early on it takes players a while. You have injuries, blisters, everything else. You need the depth so you can turn around and go to your backups and be able to rely on them to get the job done."

Rosemount's depth will likely be tested quickly with only three starters returning from last season's 6-12 squad. Dalton Cunningham, Estifanos Fairchild and Sam Temple are the returning starters and will be counted on when Rosemount opens the season Aug. 26 at home against Park.

"That inexperience and depth is what concerns us a little bit," Floersch said. "Inexperience in terms of playing together with each other on the same summer team. The depth is really, how deep can we go on the bench for all of the teams."

Floersch is hopeful with the numbers in the program continuing to rise. Over 80 players were out for the start of tryouts this week.

"The numbers are up, so that is good," Floersch said. "Otherwise, they are working hard and decisions aren't going to be easy. It's going to be hard to pick from, but it's a nice problem to have."

Having to dig so deep into the team's depth last season was unfortunate, but it might offer a benefit this time around.

The Irish have several other players returning with varsity experience.

Seniors A.J. Benfante, Josue Barrita and Josh Francois return, as does junior Blake Fitzel. Seniors Temple, Barrita and Benfante will serve as team captains.

Charlie Frahm and Jake Shurts return to the team after a year away.

Cunningham and Fairchild returning gives Floersch two potential goal scorers.

"That's where we're not really sure," Floersch said. "We've got some good players that we've got to see if they can put it in the back of the net. We need to try and figure out where to best play them and how they fit the team the best."

Floersch's biggest concern is the defense.

Without a returning defensive player and the loss of all-conference goalkeeper Nicholas Osborn, Rosemount doesn't have its typical safety net and last line of defense.

"The defense is what makes me nervous the most," Floersch said. "We are wide open. The No. 1 focus is who goes where back there."

Senior Jackson Eliason has the inside track for the No. 1 goalkeeper spot, but must show he's ready for varsity competition. Benfante has the versatility to back up in goal, but will also play in the field.