HANNIBAL | The Hannibal boys soccer team is hoping to compete for a conference championship in a season where nothing is certain.
The Pirates finished with a 17-7 record last season, before falling to Liberty-Wentzville in the first round of the Class 3, District 3 Tournament.
Head coach Eric Hill said his goal is win the North Central Missouri Conference (NCMC) title and to advance far into the postseason.
“I think the NCMC is going to see a lot of very competitive games this year and we certainly hope and expect to be in the mix for a title,” Hill said. “We'll have to figure out our scoring in order for that to happen, but it should be a total team effort in putting the ball in the net this season.”
In the past three seasons, Marshall, Hannibal and Kirksville have each won the NCMC title. Hill foresees these two schools being the Pirates top rivals again this season.
“Those games have been intense the past several years,” Hill said. “Those are definitely the games that our boys look forward to first when we play them. I expect those to be competitive, intense games yet again.”
Hannibal will look to players such as Tristen Terrill, Drew Porter, Caleb Young and Trevauhn Jenkins for scoring. Defensively, the Pirates top returners are Kolin Westhoff, Blayde Terrill and Josh Baker.
The starting goalkeeper will once again be Parker Terrill, with Caden Cooke being the top backup.
“(Parker Terrill) started for us as a freshman last year and was a First Team All-Conference selection,” Hill said. “He really came into his own last year and has looked really good at practices this summer. Caden Cooke will be our other keeper and has shown steady improvement over the past three years.”
The Pirates will lean on returning captain Tristen Terrill for leadership this season.
“He is a senior this year and is doing a great job of leading once again,” Hill said. “As far as other leaders, we have a number of guys that step up at any given time.”
Hannibal has nine of its 11 starting spots set going into the season.
“With no jamboree this year, we will be more open to changes in our starting lineup than ever before,” Hill said. “Really, we are returning nine starters from last year, so there won't be too many surprises about who is on the field to start our games.”
Two freshmen made the varsity roster this year, defenders Graysen Crabill and Thomas Janes.
Hill said he has seen really good play from those two individuals in practice this summer.
“They're just young, so we're needing to see them get some experience in games at the high school level,” Hill said. “Another defender in just his second year is Jacob Hickman. He is a much improved player from the start of his freshman year and we are looking for big minutes out of him.”
Hannibal pushed back the start of the boys soccer season to Thursday, when they will travel to Kirksville.
The team will be taking several different COVID-19 precautions this season and will be following the guidelines set up by the school district.
“We are expressing the importance that the guys and parents communicate with us about any symptoms or exposure,” Hill said. “We are taking extra precautions with cleaning and social distancing. Also, making sure that each of the coaches and players has a mask available at all times when we are practicing and eventually playing games.”