State championship, the goal for Arlington

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ARLINGTON — When looking ahead to the 2018 season, Arlington boys soccer coach Todd Wilkins doesn't mince words when it comes to his expectations for this year's Eagles team.

"We have a strong team. We're looking to make a state championship run," Wilkins said.

The last time Arlington went to the state title game was in 2015 when they lost in penalty kicks against longtime rival Proctor. The last time the Eagles won a state title was years before any player on the team was born, in 1995, when Arlington beat Northfield for a Division III title.

With the amount of talent coming back from last year's squad that fell to South Royalton in a tight Division IV quarterfinal game, Wilkins might be on to something for the 2018 Arlington squad.

Most of the Eagles' top offensive performers return this fall.

Wil Stewart led Arlington with six goals last year, while Matthew Ritchie and Dominic Whalen weren't far behind with five and four respectively. All three of those players are back for 2018.

Other goal scoring threats from last season like Lewis Whalen, Chase Hoyt and Jack Lane are also back, along with Kolby Wilkins who tallied a goal last year as well.

The Eagles will have to contend with a few major losses on the defensive side. Defender Lane Nolan and goalkeeper Bailey Cross were both all-state selections last fall and don't return to Arlington this year.

The Eagles are carrying two goalkeepers on their roster with Linus Bialojan and Bryce Harrington as options in goal.

Arlington has looked strong in the first two games of the season. They started off the year with a shutout 3-0 win against Windsor and pulled out a 3-2 win against West Rutland Tuesday on the road in overtime.

Dominic and Lewis Whalen have stepped up offensively early on in the season. Both have had a goal apiece in both games to be tied for the team lead.

Freshman Gabe Enzensperger stepped up to score the game-winning goal in overtime against West Rutland.

Wilkins has been impressed early on and thinks a win against a team the caliber of West Rutland, a team that made it to the D IV semifinals last year, proves a lot about Arlington's prospects.

"West Rutland is one of the best teams we're going to face all season long," Wilkins said. "If we can compete with them, we can compete with anybody."

It's still early in the season, but Wilkins believes in the ability of the group he has in place.

"I have high hopes for this group," Wilkins said. "We are playing very decent soccer right now."

Arlington sits at 2-0 on the season and plays Brattleboro in the opening round of the John James Tournament Thursday at Mount Anthony Union.

Roster: Jack Lane, Wil Stewart, Chase Hoyt, Kolby Wilkins, Matthew Ritchie, Linus Bialojan, William Moore, Jan Jerabell, Lewis Whalen, Dominic Whalen, Bryce Harrington, Cameron Rhodes, Taylor Therriault, Xander Hawley, Gabe Enzensperger, Jacob Morse, Tyler Seeley.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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