Each high school team is faced with turnover from year to year.
Graduation is the primary cause of but other factors come in to play as well.
The Wilmington High School boys soccer program lost as much as any team could lose from last year’s 11-6-2 squad.
Head coach Imad El-Macharrafie and his assistants Mark Knisley and Steve Reed will be faced with a daunting task in rebuilding the Hurricane.
The top loss is All-America selection Sam Spirk, who is playing at Capital University. But five other starters must be replaced, including Seth Gundlach, Nate Lakes, Adam Russo, Charlie Schumacher and Jake Vaughan.
Spirk and Schumacher scored plenty of goals for the Hurricane during their four years at Alumni Field, so finding an offensive spark up front is a must for WHS.
Spirk posted a school record 117 goals and 61 assists for Wilmington.
Seniors Graham Vilvens and Garrett Neff will lead the Hurricane along with juniors Eli Hicks and Josh Vaughan.
However, Wilmington will have four returning sophomores who started last season. The Hurricane were 6-3-1 in the SBAAC American Division but made a strong tournament run before being ousted in the Division II Southwest District championship match by Tippecanoe, 2-1.
Matt Butcher, Takaaki Nishino, Jacob Romer and Brady Vilvens gained valuable experience last season as freshmen. Avery Bradshaw also saw action as a freshman but did not start a majority of games, El-Macharrafie said.
El-Macharrafie said the WHS squad is working together. He believes his team can be successful if they recognize each situation and make proper soccer decisions.
“We are a young team with several players lacking varsity game experience,” he said. “However, if we play smart, we have the potential of becoming a very competitive team. Playing hard only is not going to be enough.”