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Soccer preview: Strength on defense drives Blazers

Addison Trail midfielder Cesar Chavez dribbles down field in the Blazers' game with Curie on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.
Addison Trail midfielder Cesar Chavez dribbles down field in the Blazers' game with Curie on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

ADDISON – Last season the Blazers had one of the best seasons in school history with a 14-6-1 record and a second place finish in the West Suburban Gold

It may be difficult to replicate that production, but the Blazers still have some talented pieces coming back to lead the charge.

All-sectional sweeper Angelo Amato leads a veteran defense that also includes senior returner Daniel Krajewski. In all, AT has five returning starters back.

The Blazers were expecting a boost from junior midfielder Elisa Leyva, the brother of recently graduated all-state forward Jorge Leyva. Elisa Leyva joined from the Chicago Fire Academy, but injured his shoulder early in the season opener and coach Ryan Dini fears he may miss the season.

“We had a bad start,” Dini said of AT dropping its first three matches. “We lost probably our best player probably five minutes into our season. It’s been a transition the first couple games getting guys moved around.”

AT has since recovered from the 0-3 start with three straight victories, including a 2-0 win over Downers Grove South on Tuesday in the Gold opener.

Dini thinks pushing higher up the conference pecking order may be a tough feat with Morton again fielding a state contender. The win over Downers Grove South was a quality win; Leyden also could factor in the Gold race. Dini also highlighted the Oct. 8 senior night game against Willowbrook as a big one.

“This year we’re looking to finish top half,” Dini said.

The Blazers do have some youth with freshman forward Tom Kinia coming from a quality club background and sliding right into AT’s attack. Senior Trey Smith will combine with Kinia up top. Fellow returners Juan Briones and Cesar Chavez will be key in the midfield for the senior-heavy squad.

Despite some talent elsewhere on the field, AT will look to win low scoring games thanks to the strength of its defense.

“We’re a small team as usual, but we’re fast and have good ball skills,” Dini said. “Right now our defenders are our best players.”

Addison Trail at a glance

Conference: West Suburban Gold

Home field: 213 N. Lombard Rd., Addison

2012 record: 14-6-1 overall, 5-1 WSG

Coach: Ryan Dini

Top returners:
Angelo Amato sr. D
Juan Briones sr. M
Cesar Chavez sr. M
Daniel Krajewski sr. D
Trey Smith sr. F

Promising newcomers:
Javier Berrum so. M
Tom Kinia fr. F

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