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Beloit Memorial Boys Soccer Players Have Plenty of Cool Experiences Coming Up This Summer

Beloit Memorial boys soccer head coach Brian Denu correctly predicted last offseason that his incoming freshman class was going to be an impactful one.

Denu started four frosh players nearly every game, and at times that number ballooned up to six. And the athletes were impactful, helping the Purple Knights finish 9-10-4 despite the inexperience. Several of the first-year players stuffed the stat sheet as three of Beloit’s five point leaders were freshman.

And as the class prepares to enter its sophomore season, it is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down as it makes some serious noise in the summer months.

Sophomores Jared Barajas and Edgar Montez of are heading with their Rockford City squad to the USYS President’s Cup Finals in Wichita, Kansas on July 12-16, sophomore Banks Denu will be playing for the Rockford Raptors 2009 ECNL team in the ECNL National Finals in Richmond, Virginia from July 15-18 and sophomores Manny Giles and John Anthony Aburto started play in Mexico on Monday with the Rockford Raptors ECNL RL B08, which will compete against Mexican youth academy teams.

“We’re really excited about that class,” Brian Denu said. “I’m proud to see them be able to have these opportunities. And I hope that it’s not a flash in the pan and that they’re going to continue to keep being presented with these opportunities down the line as well.”

Barajas and Montez play for Rockford’s squad in the US Youth Soccer club league, which holds its National President’s Cup championship every season. The two won the state tournament in Illinois and traveled to South Dakota to play in the Midwest Regionals, which they won to punch their ticket to the national tournament, where they will face other regional victors.

“They actually demolished everybody (in regionals),” Denu said. “We were able to watch him play a little bit yesterday because Baylor had a game in Rockford and they were playing afterwards. They looked like they’re ready to go. Jared’s a captain for them and one of their best players. He’s a kid who we’re going to rely on heavily to hold down the middle for us this year, so it’s good to see him playing at a high level.”

The Denu family has been a staple in the Raptors organization for years, and coach Denu said that this is the farthest the squad has advanced, with a chance to become national champions.

The Raptors had a great performance in the Midwest Regional round hosted in Indiana and possessed the No. 1 seed out of the region going into knockout play in San Diego, California as a result.

Banks Denu, who paced Beloit with 42 points last season, injured his ankle in regionals and was on crutches for three weeks. But, he was back in time for the Raptors’ trip to San Diego.

“Banks was kind of getting his sea legs back,” coach Denu said. “But he played well. He had a couple assists and he hadn’t scored until that last game, the knockout game that we played against World Class, who was out of New York, and were the number two seed and the number two ranked team in the entire tournament.

“Banks scored two goals and had an assist and was really playing well. I’m hopeful that that carries over as we move to Virginia. We drew the number one seed (Utah Avalanche) in that first game, so it certainly isn’t going to be easy.”

If the Raptors win their first two games, they will play in the national championship on Thursday.

While Giles and Aburto aren’t playing for a national title, their trip to Mexico will nonetheless provide a great chance to play against tough competition.

“One of the Raptors coaches played in Liga MX, which is the Mexican version of the MLS but a little stronger,” Denu said. “So, they’re going over there and playing against some of the academy teams near Mexico City. They play three games guaranteed, because it’s not really a tournament but a few friendlies. It’s going to be really good for them as they prepare for our season. All those kids are capable of playing at the next level.”

There is plenty of individual success to be excited about this summer, and the Knights are also oozing with potential as they inch closer and closer to the start of the season.

Denu said that while in the past Beloit had heavily focused on open gym sessions in the past, this offseason has brought up chances to go toe-to-toe with other squads.

“Madison Edgewood started a 9 v. 9 league for high school teams and we have our first game this Thursday,” the head coach said. “We’ve also got friendlies against Rockford area schools like Harlem, Boylan, Guilford and Hononegah. We basically took the month of June to let our kids finish up some of their club seasons, if they are in one, and then we focus on the next month to prepare.”

The Knights will also get another chance to see some in-game action as they ready to play in the 7 v. 7 Hola Familia Festival Soccer Tournament hosted in DeKalb on Friday.

And with several of those star sophomores out of town for their club trips, the tourney will be a great opportunity for some players to showcase what they are capable of.

“We’re missing five guys who I anticipate will start,” Denu said. “We have a lot of guys coming back, but for roster spots 13 through 18, it’s going to be a real battle. We’ll be keeping an eye out for that.”

Source: Beloit Daily News