CONYERS - Under the new direction of first-year head coach Kurt Peters, the Salem boys soccer team is readying to continue its tradition on the field.
Peters, a former Salem assistant coach, replaced Sean DeWeese, who left the Seminoles after two years as head coach at the end of last season.
Yet the mission remains the same.
"Our goals are to win the Conyers Cup and finish in the top three (in the) region. To meet this challenge, we expect hard work and commitment from each player," Peters said.
Should the Seminoles do just that, they will pick up right where they left off.
Last year, Salem won the 8-AAAA South trophy en route to a No. 1 seed in the region tournament.
The Seminoles earned a state tournament bid as the No. 3 seed from 8-AAAA, upsetting St. Pius during the first round before losing to Alexander in the second.
The 2009 Seminoles consist of roughly half returnees and half new faces at the varsity level.
Seniors Trent Carpenter (goalkeeper), Garrett Wallace (defender), Jaleel Brooks, Joseph Schneider and Jacob Young will be relied on heavily for leadership.
Both Carpenter (119 saves) and Wallace were each selected to the All-Area 8-AAAA first team last season.
"Our biggest strength as a team is our defense. This is where we have the most experience and one of the best keepers, Trent Carpenter, in the region," Peters said. "Our offense has a lot of talent but lacks experience. At the moment, our inexperience together is our biggest weakness; it's a work in progress."
Juniors Jordan Reed, Naveed Khan and Kwasi Yankey should also have a significant impact this season.
"Based on history or reputation, teams like McIntosh, Habersham, Heritage or Rockdale present a challenge," Peters said. "But at the moment there's no concern. After I see us play our first game, that might change."
According to the first-year head coach, the major emphasis in practice has been focusing on concentration.
"Because we're young," Peters said.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Salem boys soccer
Coach: Kurt Peters (first year)
Last year's record: 13-5-1, lost to Alexander 2-1 in second round of Class AAAA state playoffs
First game: 5 p.m. Monday vs. Eagle's Landing Christian Academy