Bulldogs seek spark after slow start to '08

CONYERS - The Rockdale boys soccer team kicked off its 2008 campaign last week, and so far, the road has been a rocky one.

The Bulldogs have started the season 0-2 with lopsided losses to South Gwinnett and Duluth.

However, Rockdale coach Brian Travis has high hopes that his team can overcome its rocky start and become a better squad than it was last year. The Bulldogs finished 8-5-2 in 2007, losing to Dacula in the first round of the Region 8-AAAA playoffs.

In order for the Bulldogs to succeed where last year's team failed, they will need a lot of help from their younger, inexperienced players.

"One of the obstacles this year will be the fact that we're adding a lot of inexperience to the team," Travis said. "It's going to take a lot of direction on and off the field. Communication will really help us."

The Bulldogs return a healthy crop of starters and look to have a talented crew of youngsters as well.

Ryan Young (midfield/forward), Jairo Coronell (goalkeeper), Michael Morgan (defender/midfield) and Angel Villanueva (defender/midfield) anchor a cast of returning starters back for their senior season.

The Bulldogs also return senior Justin McKithen (defender/midfield) and sophomores Brandon Story (midfield/defender), Josh Smith (midfield) and Ken Shinmura (midfield/defender), who all saw significant action last season.

Travis said he's also looking for good things out of sophomore Tyrone Hill (midfield) and junior Leonardo Gonzalez (defender/midfield).

Right now, Travis said he wants more consistency out of his players.

"We've shown spurts of creativity in the attack with our opportunities and shots on goal. It's just hasn't been consistent," Travis said. "That's something else that we've struggled with - inconsistency.

"We've got a diverse group of personalities, and, for the most part, that can come back to bite you. However, I feel that this is a fun group that gets along and their diversity and personalities actually compliment the team more than it hinders it."

Travis said he has not set any specific goals yet for this season; he just wants his team to improve each game.

"Right now, we're taking it one game at a time," he said. "We're trying to learn from one game to improve in another in hopes that we begin to peak during region play,"

The Bulldogs get back on the field at 7:30 p.m. today at Meadowcreek.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Rockdale boys soccer

Coach: Brian Travis, third season

Last year: 8-5-2

Next game: 7:30 p.m. today at Meadowcreek.