Dover boys’ soccer team looks to rebound

Paul Booton

Paul Booton

DOVER — It’s been a while since the Dover High boys’ soccer program experienced a losing season.

In fact, Paul Booton never had one since he took over as head coach in 2006.

But the Senators slumped last year to a 5-10 record. With a new season around the corner, Dover is looking to erase that memory pretty quickly.

“It was a down year last year,” Booton said. “So the object is to get us back to where we can go. We’re on the right track.”

Dover is only two years removed from making the eight-team Division I state tournament in 2013 when it fell in the first round to Appoquinimink.

The squad tasked with getting the Senators back to their winning ways is a mixture between a trio of seniors and a handful of fresh young talent. Booton said 15 freshmen tried out for the team and there’s also a large group of sophomores.

The key returners are senior captain Chris Valenti (midfield), senior striker Jordan Hutchins and senior midfielder James Stock. Junior Grant Henry also comes back to help anchor the backline.

“We have those major returning seniors and some juniors that got a lot of playing time last year,” Booton said. “They’re excited. They expect to do a lot better than last year. It’ll be fun.”

“We’re a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster than last year,” he added.

The Senators are going to have to find a new goalie for this season.

Booton said that spot is between sophomores Sean Quirk and Cole Palmer along with senior Micahel Cortez.

Dover has already played in one “Play Day” this preseason — at Kirkwood Soccer Club last Saturday. The Senators played in four mini-games and did not concede a single goal.

“That’s what we were shooting for,” Booton said. “We’re trying to get ourself into a team shape and a team commitment of how we’re going to play and they’re buying into it.”

There’s another “Play Day” this week that Dover is hosting on Wednesday Sept. 9 at 4 p.m. Four other teams are scheduled to compete — Indian River and Sussex Tech from the Henlopen Conference then two upstate teams as Delaware Military Academy and St. Elizabeth will make the trip to Dover.

The Senators open their season at home in the Upstate-Downstate Challenge against Wilmington Friends on Saturday Sept. 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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