There should be a learning curve for the Bowie High School's boys soccer team. Only three players return from the team that reached the 2013 4A South Region final. Only a few days until the fall season, new coach Frantz Deetjen said he hasn't finalized what formation he'll implement.
But the early signs — such as last week's 1-0 scrimmage loss to Bethesda's Walt Whitman — point to another strong Bulldogs season. Maybe not as strong as last year's, though Deetjen, who was an assistant under the recently retired Richard Kirkland, said he's been impressed with what he's seen thus far.
“Against a high-powered team like Whitman, to only allow one goal, I was pleased,” Deetjen said. “They're still trying to develop [and mature] … We'll be playing a different style of soccer than Bowie is used to.”
One of the returning starters, senior goalkeeper Brenden LeMaster, said he and his teammates have focused on improving communication
“[It] isn't the best right now but it's getting better,” said LeMaster, an All-Gazette honorable mention. [We've] been working on our positioning, and me being the goalie, I see the whole field. They're beginning to listen and actually take what I say and the other players say, and execute … They're doing good right now.”
Senior Dalwin Granados and junior striker Jesse Frimpong also return for the Bulldogs, and they'll be joined by former D.C. United Academy players Khalid Balogun and Ioannis Kiotsekoglou, Deetjen said. Bowie also brings up several junior varsity players.
Bowie has 21 state semifinals appearances and nine 4A state titles, winning its most recent one in 2011. The Bulldogs lost to Parkale 2-1 in double overtime of the 2013 South Region finals.
“It's been hard, but it'll get better as the season goes on,” LeMaster said.
Perennial powerhouse DeMatha Catholic graduated 12 seniors, including All-Gazette Player of the Year Arion Sobers, after winning the 2013 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, but the Stags remain one of the area's top teams. The Hyattsville school returns several key contributors including midfielder James Gielen and senior goalkeeper Keegan Meyer, who recorded shutouts in 11 of his 13 games started last season.
[The WCAC championship] is definitely the goal. We're going to have a process to go through … to really develop the younger guys,” DeMatha Coach Dafydd Evans said. “But it's fun. It's always exciting to start off a new team again.”
Elsewhere in Prince George's County, look for another big season from the 4A South champion Parkale. Region runner-up Bowie lost most of its lineup but should remain strong, while Charles H. Flowers, High Point and Northwestern could all go deep in the postseason.
Crossland, a 3A school, is looking to surpass last season's 14-2 record and win a Prince George's County championship after getting to the finals last fall and losing to High Point.
Senior Andre Ferguson Jr. had a team-high 18 assists last season while Rodney Ngoh, a center back, had 16 goals.
“[A county championship is] doable,” said Crossland coach Andre Ferguson, father of the Cavaliers' senior playmaker. “That's what I'm trying for this year. I'm looking to win that this year.”