“We look to be competitive and improve as the season goes on,” head coach Rob Carlier said. “We are currently 1-1 in league. We lost to Batavia (on Aug. 23, 8-2), who was strong. I believe Amelia will be strong as well.”
While the Rockets’ roster has a good amount of juniors and seniors, Carlier says that they lack some experience, so the onus is on playing well as a team and continuing to improve as the season progresses.
Heading up that cause will be a pair of senior defensemen that Carlier hopes will lead by example.
“We’re led by sweeper Robbie Erikson and goalie Forest Wills,” the coach said.
Erikson was a Second Team All-Conference selection last year and the only returning All-League selection. The Rockets lost their other three all-stars to graduation.
Along with Erikson and Wills, CNE will look for some leadership and quality play from fellow seniors Kyle Reed, Greg Coleman, Nick Galvin, Zach Johnstone and Cody Billow.
While the Rockets are gaining experience on the pitch, Carlier hopes to do the same on the sidelines, returning to coaching varsity for the first time since the mid-1990s when he was a girls varsity coach.
Carlier is hoping for the best from his team this year, but is also realistic about their chances in the league, saying that if the team can even out with a .500 record, it would be a good building block for the next few years.
So far this season, the Rockets are sitting at 1-3, but 1-1 in the conference. Following their SBC-opening loss to Batavia, the Rockets rebounded with a 2-1 victory over Blanchester to even their slate.
Advantageously for the Rockets, they only play two division games in their next eight. During that stretch, the Rockets should be able to get a good feel for the style of play they hope to enforce on their opponents in order to have a strong finish in the league.
While they may not be playing teams from the SBC-National, the Rockets will face the other side of the conference in games against Goshen, Amelia, Bethel-Tate, Western Brown and New Richmond.
Closing out the season, the Rockets will play four of their last five games against divisional opponents. If Carlier’s prediction of going .500 in the league is to come to fruition, the last two weeks of the season will need to be successful ones for CNE.
The Rockets kicked off the first full month on the season on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at Georgetown and Wednesday, Sept. 5 versus Winton Woods with back-to-back games.
The Rockets will then travel to Felicity on Sept. 10 before going nearly three weeks without facing a team from the National Division.