KEYSER, W.Va. — Few people have a better eye for spotting talent than Potomac State College men’s soccer coach Ray Kiddy.
Fewer, still, have done a better job at molding talented players into successful teams.
It’s been proven year after year, and this year is no exception. Potomac State is 14-2 and the No. 1 seed in the Region XX, Division III Tournament, and plays in tonight’s 7 o’clock semifinal at fourth-seeded Anne Arundel.
When the Catamounts, unranked but receiving votes in the most recent national poll, take the field tonight more than half of the starters will have come from local high schools, something that Kiddy had hoped would someday be the case when he took over the program three years ago.
“We were trying to build for this. I wanted a good mix of local kids, about a 50-50 split, because I always thought we had good kids here,” said Kiddy.
“Having played college soccer and having coached at Potomac State, Allegany and Catonsville, I felt that was the way to go. I know how local soccer has improved. Mountain Ridge, with two state championships, is a great example of that, and I thought we could do this with local kids.
“We have more travel teams coming out of this area and playing in Morgantown, Baltimore and Gettysburg areas than ever before.”
The six local starters are Justin Winebrenner, Chris Ranker and Zachary Saylor (Mountain Ridge), Steve Holtschneider and Jeffrey Trautwein (Northern Garrett) and Garrett Kiddy (Allegany).
Add Conner Eberly, Brandon Cutter and Jordan Cook (Mountain Ridge), Jacob Strawn (Hampshire) and Dan Atkins (Allegany), and the local count is up to 11. Count Conor Fungaroli (Chestnut Ridge), Cody Wedge (Meyersdale) and Caleb Goodin (Bedford), and it’s 14.
Kiddy took over a program that had won three games in 2009, and put together consecutive 8-6-1, 10-5-1 and 14-2 seasons.
Winebrenner and Holtschneider are two of 17 sophomores on this year’s 24-man roster. The sophomore class has a 24-7-1 record at PSC.
“Justin and Steve will be tough for me to replace with local guys next year. We’ve got good local talent, but you just don’t get any better junior college players than them,’’ Kiddy said.
Winebrenner has four goals and four assists and Holtschneider six goals and one assist.
The roster includes a Times-News player of the year (Ranker, 2011), an offensive player of the year (Ranker, 2009, 2010), a defensive player of the year (Cutter, 2010), and a goalkeeper of the year (Eberly, 2011).
“Chris is aggressive, has great speed and is good with the head and balls of the shoulder. He wants to play at the next level and he can play at the next level if he keeps improving,” said Kiddy.
“Brandon went to Frostburg State his first year for academics. When he saw Justin and Zachary and the other guys at Potomac State playing soccer, he really began missing it, and he came over this year and has been a great asset.
“The same with Garrett (Kiddy). Garrett went to WVU his first year and enjoyed it there, but missed soccer and wanted to come back. He’s our right midfielder and I’m proud of what he’s done, too.
“When I recruited Conner, we had a lot of conversation about him wanting to play in the field. He’s the first one off the bench for us, and is playing in the field and doing a very good job.”
Eberly was one of the MVPs in the M&T Bank Senior Classic a year ago, one day after being in goal and booting the game-clinching penalty kick in the state championship game against Manchester Valley.
Nationally, Ranker is 11th in goals (14) and 30th in points (30) among Division III players.
Potomac State’s gotten big contributions from the local players on its roster, and certainly the same can be said of the out-of-town players.
Kiddy found out about goalie Fungaroli, of nearby Bedford, by seeing a film of him on the internet. Two years later, he’s gotten calls from a number of schools, including the University of San Francisco, this week.
“Conor also wants to play at the next level, and he definitely can play at the Division I level,’’ said Kiddy.
Fungaroli is 11th in the nation in goals against (0.73 per game) and 27th in save percentage (.804).
Trey Ogilvie, of Winchester, Va., and Gudiel Guzman, of El Salvador via Berkeley Springs, are also nationally ranked. Ogilvie is 18th in goals (12) and 36th in points (25) and Guzman is 29th in assists (7).
“I spend a lot of time recruiting. When you want half your kids to be local, you have to see a lot of games,” said Kiddy, who also sees a lot of games because of his role as an assistant principal at Allegany High.
Kiddy has a 260-154-20 record in 34 years of coaching soccer, which also included time as head coach at Allegany, Beall, Bishop Walsh, Fort Hill and Mount Savage high schools.
The youngest Kiddy son, Gabe, is a senior at Allegany and will be at Potomac State next year.
“He knows how many games I go to and how much recruiting I do, and says he has a recruiter in the house every night.”
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at email@example.com