Thank goodness that the well runs deep in Lockport, where the varsity boys soccer team has dominated in Western New York for decades.
Coming off yet another outstanding championship season under head coach Jeff Hulshoff, the Lions are again optimistic, but sobered by the fact that they’ll be without their best player in 2013.
Lions senior striker Josh Beshaw, one of the Niagara Frontier League’s most prolific scorers for the past two years, has a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the upcoming season.
A star sprinter and member of the state finalist 400 relay team, Beshaw’s best case scenario is a return for the 2014 spring track & field season.
“It’s a huge loss,” Hulshoff acknowledged at practice last week at LHS. “We were counting on him being an All-Western New York and NFL all-star. He tore his ACL in a premier soccer game in June. He’s been doing physical therapy and is already two weeks ahead of schedule, which is good news.”
Forging ahead, the soccer Lions will open their 2013 Niagara Frontier League season at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday against visiting Niagara-Wheatfield.
The Lions finished 19-1 last fall under Hulshoff and assistant coach Bill “Judge” Watson. The NFL-champion Lions advanced as far as the Section VI Class AA finals, losing to Clarence in a shootout at Hamburg’s all-weather facility. Hulshoff has chalked up five league titles in his eight previous years as LHS head coach.
Among the team’s many key losses due to graduation are the Reid brothers, Alex and Andy, Mike Ford, Jerry West and Curtis Maloney. Twelve seniors in all from last year’s area powerhouse graduated last spring.
Among the Lions’ key returners this fall are co-captains Nick Deuil, Chris MacDonald, Bailey Reid and Luke Sciandra. In a fitting tribute to his contributions to the LHS soccer program, Beshaw will also serve as a 2013 Lions soccer captain.
Deuil will move from midfield to defense this year, playing the top of the vaunted Lions’ diamond defense, MacDonald will anchor the blue and gold midfielders at center-mid this year, Sciandra, following in the footsteps of former Lions star player Dan Sciandra, will also play center mid and Bailey Reid, a Third Team All-NFL keeper a year ago, will return between the pipes.
Other key players will include seniors Hunter Sherman, Connor Evans, Nsa Obot and Dillon Olear.
Among the almost one dozen players up from head coach Dave Stapleton’s junior varsity team is promising freshman midfielder Michael Johnston.
“Practices have been going well. We’re still a little raw, but they want to learn and they ask questions,” Hulshoff said. “They want to be successful and I’m planning on them being successful. They’re a good group of young men and they’re good learners.”
Among the teams expected to give Lockport a challenge this year are Grand Island, Niagara-Wheatfield and Lewiston-Porter.
“We’ll be in the mix,” Hulshoff said. “Our JV team only lost four games last year. Grand Island will be tough but I’m confident that we can beat them. We can beat anybody. I’m happy to be in a situation where every time we go out on the field, we have an opportunity to win a game.”
The annual Lockport Boosters Soccer Tournament is Sept. 5-7 at LHS. The varsity portion of the tournament is Friday, Sept. 6, when the Lions host St. Francis at 5 p.m. The boys varsity championship and consolation games are both at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Lockport Soccer Boosters are reminding fans that the hooded sweatshirts two of the boys are wearing in the boys soccer photo are selling for $22, along with Lions soccer T-shirts for $15. Also, One Eyed Jacks pulled pork lunches we are selling throughout the Lockport Soccer Tournament will be available for just $8.50.
Even without playing a single game in 2013, Joshua Beshaw will go down as one of the finest soccer players ever to don a Lockport blue and gold uniform.
A torn ACL in his left knee will keep the fleet-footed, skilled, touch player out of the line-up this fall, but Lions head coach Jeff Hulshoff — who has a habit of doing the right things — saw to it that Beshaw would be named a team captain this year as well.
I’ve witnessed quite a few Beshaw goals over the past three years, but as many as Beshaw directed into the net with his head, his feet and his body, there were many more he could have tallied that he unselfishly chose to pass to someone else.
Unselfish, smart and hard working are words that also apply to his mom, Karen, who helped Lockport win its only girls state basketball championship in 1994.
A leader on the field, Josh will remain a leader off, and his presence on the sideline this fall is a testament to the fine young man that he is and the lasting legacy that he will leave on one leg, where most can’t quite get there on two, no matter how hard they try.
Contact John D’Onofrio at email@example.com.