The Berean Christian School’s boys varsity soccer team has had a strong and solid start to its 2023-24 season. After nine games, the Bulldogs have a 6-2-1 record. As the regular season moves into January and beyond, the team is looking for a spectacular finish to the regular season to be followed by a deep run in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s (FHSAA) Class 2A state playoff series.
According to Luke Schartner, the head coach of Berean’s boys varsity soccer team, he likes the makeup and attitude of his team, which reminds him of his 2018 team that reached a FHSAA Class 2A regional final.
“We have a good core of players led by a group of experienced seniors,” said Schartner, now in his 18th year as head coach. “This team knows how to compete and play well, while staying loose and having fun.”
Schartner’s squad of 19 is led by a group of talented players who lead by example at school, on the practice field and during games.
Berean’s two co-captains are seniors Josh Wilson and Alex Silva, who have a strong presence on the field. Wilson is a center back, and Silva is a center midfielder.
“Josh has lots of experience, never panics and is tough to beat,” Schartner said. “Alex is one of the best players I have coached in my years of being the head coach. He is skilled, calm, hardworking and humble.”
While every soccer team works on scoring goals, it’s also important to have a goalkeeper who can keep opposing teams off the scoreboard.
Berean’s goalkeeper is junior Travis Sarkisian, whose job is to patrol the penalty area and keep the opposition at bay. After the team’s first nine games, Sarkisian has recorded three shutouts. In two other games, the opposition was limited to one goal.
“Travis is a good communicator, good on his feet and is hungry to learn how to be a better goalkeeper,” Schartner said.
Three other players who are making big contributions to the team are Ryan Chamberlin, Aaron Kruppenbacher and Elijah Luhtala.
Chamberlin, a freshman center midfielder, has a strong head on his shoulders and is mentally sharp.
“He has great vision on the field during games and has a strong sense of where the ball needs to go,” Schartner said.
Kruppenbacher, a senior striker, is a former basketball player who loves soccer and knows how to score goals.
“Aaron can efficiently finish attacking moves by putting the ball in the back of the net,” Schartner noted.
Luhtala is a freshman striker who has the poise of an upperclassman.
“Elijah makes really good runs, has learned the game quickly and is scoring an average of just over a goal a game,” Schartner said.
Berean has five regular season games left on its schedule before the FHSAA’s Class 2A, District 13 tournament begins in late January. Berean’s first game of the new year will be on Friday, Jan. 5, when the Bulldogs host the South Florida Heat. It will be a senior night celebration for Berean. The match is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
If Berean can continue to improve and win its District 13 tournament, then the Bulldogs will get an automatic bid to the Class 2A state series. If the squad can have a strong and solid conclusion to their postseason as they had to the beginning of their regular season, they could well be playing for some major FHSAA hardware well into the latter part of February.