WATERTOWN — Watching Noah Taylor calmly send a ball 60 yards on a goal kick, placing the ball perfectly for a teammate to have a clean breakaway, hammers home what all the fuss is about.
Taylor has started in goal for coach Todd Heckman’s Watertown Cyclones team the past two seasons. He enters his senior campaign as a first team All-North selection, as the best goalkeeper in the Frontier League.
Standing out in front of the net, watching the field in front of him, Taylor appears to be half a foot taller than everybody else.
“He has great size and so he has length going across the goal — he covers a lot of the goal,” Heckman said. “Noah is our best athlete — he can play anywhere he wants on the field — but he is going to affect the game most from the goal-keeper position.”
Taylor is a three-sport varsity athlete for the Cyclones, playing forward for the basketball program the past two years, and turning four seasons at midfielder in lacrosse into a Division 1 scholarship at the University of Albany.
“When I was in middle school soccer was my main sport,” Taylor said. “But I started playing club lacrosse and I fell in love with the sport. Albany was where I wanted to end up.”
Heckman admits Taylor is quite the lacrosse player, but that Taylor could have easily chosen soccer to play at the next level, and commented on how the two sports converged at times throughout his tenure at Watertown.
“I thought his best game of the year was against Cortland,” Heckman said, referencing the Cyclone’s 2-1 sectional victory against the Purple Tigers last October. “His secondary saves were great. They pressed us pretty well and had a lot of great opportunities but he came up big. He had added motivation too because Siena lacrosse coach [John Svec] was here just to watch him play soccer.”
At their late-August preseason scrimmage against Corcoran, a Watertown shot bounced off the goalie’s outstretched hands, hit the crossbar and landed out of bounds. At first, the Cyclones were confused, then they began to slowly retreat on defense.
“It’s a corner!!!,” screamed a voice from the opposite end of the field.
Taylor was right. His teammates wore a collective, “Oh,” expression on their faces, and quickly lined up for their corner kick.
Plays like that one that makes it abundantly clear Taylor is a coach’s son. Noah’s father, Mark Taylor, was the former Watertown boys’ soccer coach, and has helped mentor most of the prominent players on this Cyclones team since they were all in elementary school.
“I’d say seven of our eleven starters have been playing with me and my Dad since we were four years old at the YMCA. Just playing U8 and U10,” Taylor said.
Heckman, who has led the Cyclones to sectionals each of the seven seasons since he took over the program, believes Taylor’s most underrated gift is his knowledge of the game, a credit to his father.
“Noah does a great job of organizing everyone verbally and makes sure they are in the right spots,” Heckman said. “All of his punts and goal kicks are outstanding. His distribution is very underrated; he is very good at finding the open person after a save. He commands the defense.”
Taylor’s combination of skill and smarts made it an easy choice to start him in goal as a sophomore two seasons ago.
“I was pretty confident with Noah right away,” Heckman said. “[On JV] Noah played Fayetteville-Manlius on the turf and he was dominant in goal. He had a bunch of saves, breakaway saves. He was the dominant player on the field in a 1-0 game.”
Taylor recalls teams being more aggressive with him during his first season on the Varsity team, taking shots from further out, trying to put pressure on him. After the success he has had in his first two seasons with Watertown, Taylor said opponents don’t shoot from outside the box anymore.
“The past two years I have had a really good defense,” Taylor said. “It’s made me look very good. The skills I learned while I was sheltered by them will really help me this year.”
During last season’s undefeated run against the Frontier League, Taylor missed several games after suffering a concussion while fighting for a loose ball against rival Indian River. The team battled, won games without him, and when he returned — ironically against Indian River — it was as if nothing changed.
“Noah is a very tough individual, so for him to get knocked out like that it was a hard hit,” Heckman said. “Noah came back with no fear, like nothing happened. He continued to be a leader and a standout.”
“Some people were worried that I’d be psyched out that I was playing Indian River again but, I guess, that doesn’t come into my mind when I’m playing soccer,” Taylor said. “You’re playing soccer. You’re not worried about getting hurt.”
Heckman and Taylor both contend that Indian River is the team to beat in the Frontier League, and await the first matchup this season.
“We match up fine with them — They have a lot of speed so we’re matching speed with speed,” Taylor said. “As long as we can control their speed along the outside we’ll be set with them. We have Tyrell [Thomas], a very good striker, and he’ll find a way to score a goal a game. With him up there we’ll always have a chance to win a game.”
“It should be a very good match between us and Indian River,” Heckman said. “They have a lot of fire power up front, and we have our good defense and Noah in goal.”
Watching Taylor roam the box for the Cyclones is not unlike watching a great quarterback on a touchdown drive — he’s pointing to where he wants his teammates to be, shouting out directions, chatting with the umpires after every call, all without breaking a sweat. Watertown’s team goals this year, mostly winning a tough Frontier League, will be difficult.
Having Taylor at goalie, however, does make everyone’s job a bit easier.
Here’s a look at the Frontier League this season:
Outlook: Indian River, the preseason favorite, returns 11 players from last season’s 13-win team. Seniors Junior Malinoski and Tyler Cook combined for 82 points last season, and Malinoski led the Frontier League with 17 goals scored. Sophomore Ty Godin, who scored 23 points a year ago, should play an even larger role for the Warriors. Indian River is looking to make a deeper run into sectionals after losing in a shootout to rival Watertown … Todd Heckman has taken defending division regular season and playoff champion Watertown to sectionals each of his seven seasons as head coach. The Cyclones return 14 seniors from a team that finished last season at 15-0-3. Senior goalkeeper Noah Taylor is back in the net after a First Team All-North selection, and senior forward Tyrell Thomas scored a dozen goals and 29 points in Frontier League play. The combination of Taylor, Thomas and senior midfielder Kenny Schimpf will be leading the Cyclones on and off the field… The defending Section III Class D champion as well as a regional champion, Immaculate Heart Central returns only six players from last year’s state semi-finalist team. But head coach Mary Guyette, now in her fifth year with the Cavaliers, points to her team’s talented core group, which includes senior midfielder JP McClusky and senior goalkeeper Jarrod Smith, who both were selected as honorable mentions on the All-North team. And then there is junior striker Jake Fusilli, who scored 35 points last season, which included 14 goals, tied for sixth-most in the Frontier League.
Coach: Rich Lajoie (3rd year)
2013 record: 3-11-0 (3-10-0)
Players to watch: Chris Deronda, Devon Lajoie, Nathan Kepler
Roster: Yilmaz Ates (Sr.), Ian Bailey (Sr.), Chris DeRonda (Sr.), Kyle Hall (Sr.), Brent Hoffman (Sr.), Austin Schwartz (Sr.), Jordan Shavit (Sr.), Hunter Birchenough (Jr.), Josh Chisholm (Jr.), Tyler Dora (Jr.), Nate Kepler (Jr.), Devin Lajoie (Jr.), Eric Lawton (Jr.), John Peck (Jr.), Tom Reynolds (Jr.), Cole Sullivan (Jr.), Nathan Woolery (Jr.), Queston Grannis (So.), John Hager (So.), Nickolas O’Donnell (Fm.), Mike Otto (Fm.), John Vick (Fm.)
Coach: Mary Guyette (5th year)
2013 record: 16-3-2 (11-2-1)
Players to watch: Zach Frechette, Jake Fusilli, JP McClusky, Jarrod Smith, Jack Whalen
Roster: Inigo Benavides (Sr., S), JP McClusky (Sr., M), Tai Ta (Sr., M), Zach Frechette (Jr., S), Jake Fusilli (Jr., S), Jarrod Smith (Sr., G), Jack Whalen (Jr., D), Tyler Cooper (So., D), Chris Davis (So., M), Nic Davis (So., M), Max Graham (So., D), Will Magovney (So., D), Dan Snow (Fm., M), Connor Way (Fm., D), Hideki Ogura (8th., S)
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Fred LaVancha (8th year)
2013 record: 13-4-1 (11-3-0)
Players to watch: Kyle Barker, Tyler Cook, Ty Godin, Junior Malinoski, Kyle Smith
Roster: Kyle Barker (Sr., CB), Dalen Boyd (Sr., B), Tyler Cook (Sr., M), Justin Corley (Sr., B), Andrew Davis (Sr., B), Billy Eichner (Sr., CB), Blaine Fitzgerald (Sr., B), Vincent Inserra (Sr., G), Zach LaForest-Hurd (Sr., G), Junior Malinoski (Sr., S), Logan Prudhomme (Sr., B), Kyle Smith (Sr., M), Marley Teague (Sr., S), Anthony Coney (Jr., S), Will Foster (Jr., M), David Goldsmith (Jr., M), Nate Gutierrez (Jr., M), Seth Hebert (Jr., B), Jacob McCartney (Jr., M), Ty Godin (So., M), Xavier Singh (So., M), Kade Smith (So., B), Dylan Wagstaff (Fm., M)
Coach: Todd Heckman (8th year)
2013 record: 15-0-3 (13-0-1)
Players to watch: Eric Gibbs, Nick Long, Dan Olney, Kenny Schimpf, Noah Taylor, Tyrell Thomas
Roster: Joe Freda (Sr., B), Eric Gibbs (Sr., M), Marvin Henriquez (Sr., F), Nate Hill (Sr., F), Marcus Lavarnway (Sr., B), Nick Long (Sr., F), Dan Olney (Sr., M), David Olney (Sr., M), Jon Reardon (Sr., B), Will Sanzone (Sr., B), Kenny Schimpf (Sr., M), Noah Taylor (Sr., G), Tyrell Thomas (Sr., F), David Vaneenenaam (Sr., B), Ryan Cadwell (Jr., M), Trevor Frasher (Jr., M), Tyler Longamore (Jr., B), Kevin Torres (Jr., M), Aidan King (So., M)
Outlook: Phil Jenner enters his 12th year as head coach of General Brown with a brand new level of expectations, as the program had its first winning season and won its first sectional playoff game last season. Senior midfielder Cole Johnson returns after a spectacular season with 22 points, and fellow senior midfielder Shawn Wilcox appears poised for his best year yet … Lowville was 6-7-1 in the Frontier League last season. The Red Raiders return senior midfielder Ian Collins and goalkeeper Darren Ortlieb to their starting lineup, and first year head coach Patrick Weiler expects a big season from junior forward Ryan Wood … Injuries have certainly stunted South Jefferson’s growth, thus far, under second-year head coach Harry Powers. Five different Spartans missed significant time due to injury last season, and senior Ethan Smith fractured his leg this summer and figures to be out until midseason. But South Jefferson boasts a deep, 12-man senior class this season, which includes Italian exchange student Giorgio Manni in the middle.
General Brown Lions
Coach: Phil Jenner (12th year)
2013 record: 9-7-1 (6-7-1)
Players to watch: Marc Augliano, Kevin Durdon, Cole Johnson, Alex Martinez, Ryan Sheridan, Shawn Wilcox, David Vodicka
Roster: Marc Augliano (Sr., M), Mark Corey (Sr., FB), Bryce Fazio (Sr., F), Trevor Hickok (Sr., M), Cole Johnson (Sr., M), Alex Martinez (Sr., M), Mike Shepard (Sr., M), Ryan Sheridan (Sr., M), Alec Smith (Sr., FB), David Vodicka (Sr., M), Shawn Wilcox (Sr., M), Chris Yarnall (Sr., FB), Ben Deskins (Jr., M), Kevin Durdon (Jr., FB), Austin Guidry (Jr., FB), Jordan Jenner (Jr., F), Matt Lajuett (Jr., F), Nick Nortz (Jr., F), Connor Schissler (Jr., F), Kory Taylor (Jr., FB), Sean Sheridan (So., F)
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Patrick Weiler (1st year)
2013 record: 7-9-1 (6-7-1)
Players to watch: Dalton Jones, Darren Ortlieb, Ryan Wood
Roster: Tyler Birchenough (Sr.), Bradley Curry (Sr.), Ian Collins (Sr.), Darren Ortlieb (Sr.), Matt Fayle (Jr.), Remington Hanno (Jr.), Alex Houppert (Jr.), Lukas Hubner (Jr.), Dalton Jones (Jr.), Nathan Mooney (Jr.), Caleb VanBuren (Jr.), C.J. Ward (Jr.), Ryan Wood (Jr.), Isaac Worrall (Jr.), Caden Laribee (So.), Andre Young (So.), Eli Wood (Fr.)
Coach: Steve Olson (2nd year)
2013 record: 0-15-0 (0-15-0)
Players to watch: James Flower, Brandon Philips
Roster: Craig Gibbons (Sr.), Nick Peters (Sr.), Collin Ref (Sr.), Tyler Stern (Sr.), Jay Ivison (Sr.), Dallas Ashby (Jr.), James Flower (Jr.), Mason Larue (Jr.), Leo Philips (Jr.), Tom Brodeur (So.), Tom Gibbons (So.), Devon Lebeau (So.), Andrew Olson (So.), Brandon Philips (So.), Connor Raham (So.), Tristen Welch (So.)
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Harry Powers (2nd year)
2013 record: 3-11-0 (3-10-0)
Players to watch: Benner Geurtsen, Tom Pratt, Addison Roberts and Nick Snyder
Roster: Dylan Estal (Sr.), Luke Gaede (Sr.), Benner Geurtsen (Sr.), Pete Lumley (Sr.), Giorgio Manni (Sr.), Thomas Pratt (Sr.), Scott Richardson (Sr.), Addison Roberts (Sr.), Ethan Smith (Sr.), Nick Snyder (Sr.), Garrett Strough (Sr.), Tristan Tyo (Sr.), Tim Bodah (Jr.), Harrison Fish (Jr.), Conlan Hartshorn (Jr.), Josh Sullivan (Jr.), Ethan Vincent (Jr.), Chris Williams (Jr.), Ethan Geurtsen (So.), Scott Marlowe (So.), Nate Smith (So.), Cadin Berie (Fm.), Luke Vaadi (Fm.)
Outlook: Thousand Islands head coach Shannon Amo, now in his 15th year as head coach, only lost two seniors from a year ago. The Vikings were 9-8-0 last season, including 7-4-0 against the Frontier League. Senior Tanner Docteur and junior Aaron Zehr combined for 17 goals and 44 points a year ago … Rich Feistel is taking over the Beaver River program, and is stressing a “one game at a time” mentality in order to best last year’s 2-8-1 record.
Beaver River Beavers
Coach: Rich Feistel (1st year)
2013 record: 2-8-1 (2-6-0)
Players to watch: Riley Joslin, Jose Interiano, Liam Interiano, Christian Widrick
Roster: Jose Interiano (Sr.), Riley Joslin (Sr.), Joel Kloster (Sr.), Christian Widrick (Sr.), Ryan Davis (Jr.), Joey Harrison (Jr.), Taine Millward (Jr.), Luke Moser (Jr.), Cody Schermerhorn (Jr.), Dylan Terry (Jr.), Brandon Burns (So.), Anthony Metzler (So.), Adam Peters (So.), Ian Widrick (So.), Noah Zehr (So.), Cameron Boliver (Fm.), Liam Interiano (8th)
Thousand Islands Vikings
Coach: Shannon Amo (15th year)
2013 record: 9-8-0 (7-4-0)
Players to watch: Eli Baldwin, Tanner Docteur, Tanner Wiley, Aaron Zehr
Roster: Eli Baldwin (Sr.), Tiger Chapman (Sr.), Tanner Docteur (Sr.), Theron Grenier (Sr.), Nick Nevala (Sr.), Christian Shaw (Sr.), Dan Swartz (Sr.), Austin Marshall (Jr.), Tanner Wiley (Jr.), Aaron Zehr (Jr.), Zach Mason (Jr.), Dylan Wiley (Jr.), Ethan Clement (So.), Noah Ingerson (So.), Tyler Stockman (So.), Michael Wettherhan (So.), Riley Youngs (So.), Tim Filitrault (Fm.), Kellen Flanders (Fm.)
Outlook: Copenhagen has won the Frontier League the past two seasons, and is the team to beat yet again. It returns second team All-North selection senior Brenden Jacobs, who finished in the Top 10 in goals and assists, and senior Antonio Figueroa, who was the third-leading passer in the Frontier League. The Golden Knights did not lose in league play and finished last season 18-1-0. … Lyme returns nine players from a 13-win squad that lost in the sectional quarterfinals to Poland, the best team in the state. Newly equipped with promising newcomers sophomore Logan Springer, freshman Slater Bushen and eighth-grader Damon Blaha, head coach Scott Radley, in his 18th year with the team, is aiming for a sectional championship … Sackets Harbor finished 8-4-0 in the Frontier League a season ago. Third-year head coach Chelsea Nohle is anticipating an even bigger year in 2014, with 11 returning players and seven returning starters. Senior Eric Chrostowski scored 13 goals and 30 points last season for the Patriots. Senior Ryan Allen tallied both goals for Sackets Harbor in their Class D first round loss at Brookfield … Heading into his 11th season, Alexandria head coach Robert Bastian is aiming for a top three finish against a competitive division. While the Purple Ghosts have their work cut out for them replacing two of the best point scorers in the Frontier League, seniors Cameron Morgan and Tristan Thomson have enough starting experience to step into larger scoring roles … LaFargeville finished 2-10 against the Frontier League a year ago, but an experienced core and an influx of talented freshman have first-year head coach Jamie Jeffers confident the Red Knights can be competitive in each game … Belleville Henderson suffered a winless season a year ago, but fourth-year head coach Ron Whitney is confident that his senior class can bring along the team’s younger players in order to compete for a playoff spot.
Alexandria Purple Ghosts
Coach: Robert Bastian (11th year)
2013 record: 8-8-0 (6-6-0)
Players to watch: Cameron Morgan, Tristan Thomson
Roster: Ryan Charlebois (Sr.), Brodix Gill (Sr.), Cameron Morgan (Sr.), Tristan Thomson (Sr.), Garrett Bass (Jr.), Mason Davis (Jr.), Parker Garlock (Jr.), Dan Gionet (Jr.), Zakariya Imdad (Jr.), Trenton Service (Jr.), Ryan Tebo (Jr.), Brendon Hunter (So.), Ian Chamberlain (So.), Brandon Davis (So.), Jordan Felicia (So.), Daegan Jeffers (So.), Connor Langling (So.), Cody Stephenson (So.), Alex Swanson (So.), Kyle Gionet (Fr.)
Belleville Henderson Panthers
Coach: Ron Whitney (4th year)
2013 record: 0-12-0 (0-12-0)
Players to watch: Trevor Contryman, Matt Corron, Tyler David, Tom Desormeau
Roster: Trevor Contryman (Sr.), Matt Corron (Sr.), Tyler David (Sr.), Tom Desormeau (Sr.), Brendan Moore (Sr.), Nick Neddo (Sr.), Hayden Peterson (Sr.), Brandon Dahl (Jr.), Caden Durham (Jr.), Ethan Bast (So.), Colin Cross (So.), Ethan Billman (Fm.), Jordan Dahl (Fm.), Zane Lashway-Voytko (Fm.), Jacob Muldovan (Fm.), Jacob Wallace (Fm.), Brady Maloney (8th)
Copenhagen Golden Knights
Coach: Scott Randall (6th year)
2013 record: 18-1-0 (12-0-0)
Players to watch: Antonio Figueroa, Brenden Jacobs, Breven Jacobs
Roster: Antonio Figueroa (Sr.), Brenden Jacobs (Sr.), Breven Jacobs (Sr.), Kevin Carroll (Sr.), Sam Williams (Sr.), Josh Snyder (Sr.), Garrett Munden (Sr.), Cory Moser (Sr.), Connor Eddy (Jr.), Brandon Buckley (Jr.), Robbie Groff (Jr.), J.D. Uhlinger (So.), Cody Buckley (Fr.), Zach Herbert (Fr.)
LaFargeville Red Knights
Coach: Jamie Jeffers (1st year)
2013 record: 2-11-0 (2-10-0)
Players to watch: Colton Denny, Ethan Johnson, Thomas O’Driscoll, Hunter Sammons, Hunter Soluri
Roster: Colton Denny (Sr.), Hunter Soluri (Sr.), Hunter Sammons (Sr.), Ethan Forbes (Jr.), Ethan Johnson (Jr.), Hunter Ainsworth (Jr.), Thomas O’Driscoll (Jr.), Mike Wells (Jr.), Joe Foisy (So.), Peyton Morse (So.), Connor Jeffers (Fm.), Tanner Jeffers (Fm.), Matt Briggs (Fm.), Brodie Price (Fm.)
Coach: Scott Radley (18th year)
2013 record: 13-5-0 (9-3-0)
Players to watch: Slater Bushen, Cody Lothrop, Caden Sanford
Roster: Tyler Davis (Sr.), Joe Paladino (Sr.), Austin Lennox (Sr.), Riley Schwind (Sr.), Andrew Brown (Sr.), Caden Sanford (Jr.), Tristen Walker (Jr.), Cody Lothrop (Jr.), Patrick Thompson (Jr.), Joshua Kimball (Jr.), Jeremy Decker (Jr.), Michael Barber (So.), Logan Springer (So.), Austin Sanford (So.), Slater Bushen (Fm.), Damon Blaha (8th)
Sackets Harbor Patriots
Coach: Chelsea Nohle (3rd year)
2013 record: 10-6-0 (8-4-0)
Players to watch: Ryan Allen, Colton Belcher, Dakota Browne, Eric Chrostowski, Kyle Gonseth, Alex Keegan, Shea Lynch
Roster: Ryan Allen (Sr.), Colton Belcher (Sr.), Dakota Browne (Sr.), Eric Chrostowski (Sr.), Matthew Stackel (Sr.), Jarrett Browne (Jr.), Dominick Chiodi (Jr.), Damien Clay (Jr.), Nathan Fillingham (Jr.), Clark Gayne (Jr.), Kyle Gonseth (Jr.), Kyle Larkin (Jr.), Cody Lawrence (Jr.), Shea Lynch (Jr.), Hunter Kall (Jr.), Craig Osborne (Jr.), Drew Snedded (Jr.), Chase Urbanowicz (Jr.), Alex Keegan (So.), Marcus Menapace (So.), Caleb Nans (So.)