Grizzlies reload

Brad Roupp stepped on to the Ashland High soccer scene last year, watched his team breeze through the regular season, advance to its first state championship and almost win the whole thing.

OK, so he may have set the bar a little high for himself, but that doesn't appear to be a concern to the man who led the Grizzlies to their most successful season in school history.

"We're gonna be good," said Roupp, with a shrug of his shoulders and a grin that didn't hint at, but shouted understatement.

The Grizzlies dominated the Southern Sky Conference in 2008, coasting to a perfect record, and finished 15-2-1 overall.

But gone are nine graduates, including eight all-conference selections and SSC Player of the Year Nate Roupp. The stingy group allowed only one goal in loop action, and that goal was scored with most of the starters on the bench.

With most of those starters gone, though, Ashland will move towards a different, faster style of play.

"We lost quite a bit of size, but we replaced it with a bunch of quick guys and the speed we play at is going to be at another level," senior Adam Pavlich said. "We should be able to move the ball around and take a lot more risks on the defensive side."

Pavlich, a lanky forward, is Ashland's only returning all-SSC first-teamer. He tallied 16 goals and four assists, and was second in points only behind Roupp, who had 16 goals and 10 assists.

Also at forward for the Grizzlies will be senior Reed Chasmar, who helped the Grizzlies advance to the state finals with a two-goal game in the semis against Sherwood.

Kelby Kemske (second-team All-SSC) and junior Ian Murray (honorable mention) and Zane Pindell will add experience to the Ashland attack at midfield.

"We're certainly going to be quicker at moving the ball, but we're working hard at making sure we use the whole field," Roupp said. "Right now we tend to do a lot of give-and-go stuff, which is nice, but eventually we'll have to open it up to the entire field.

"When we do that, this is going to be a powerful group."

Senior Noah Sohl, who missed all of 2008 with a foot injury, is slated to replace All-Conference goalkeeper Wes Overland.

Obviously, there is a lot of replacing going on, but Pavlich says the Grizzlies are looking forward to another challenge.

"There's no reason not to be excited about what we can do," he said. "It's going to be completely different than last year, but we're not really feeling the pressure. We're a much more relaxed team, and we know there are a lot of ways we can go about getting the right things done."

A preseason schedule that includes 6A rivals North and South Medford, along with 5A powerhouse Woodburn, kicks off this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field in Medford with a jamboree that will stage Ashland in shorter, scrimmage-like matches.

Roupp says the jamboree will give him a chance to feel out a regular rotation.

"We want to be playing the best teams in the state at the end of the year, so there's no reason not to test ourselves right now," he said.

"I want us to be competitive in every game we play, and hopefully that will help us be one of the top contenders in the conference."

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