LISBON FALLS — Marcus Bubar has some pretty sizable soccer cleats to fill this year — his own.

After scoring 26 goals and adding 10 assists in a year that earned him all-state honors, the Lisbon senior has a challenge to try and top what he did a year ago. Bubar set high goals for himself last year and made all of them come true. Now he has his sights set equally high.

“I want to do the same things,” he said. “I want to be up there in goals and assists and everything. I obviously want the team to be successful too and go for the third MVC title in a row.”

Doing that this year won’t be easy, Bubar was fortunate last year to have a veteran group of players on the field with him. The Greyhounds were very adept at transitioning the ball up field and setting up Bubar on the offensive end. He doesn’t have that kind of experience around him now. His brother Cam, an all-star midfielder, graduated along with defenders Matt Hardison, Dan Conlon, Kyle Huston and Jeff Wiersbicki. The team also graduated starting midfielder Mike McManus and starting forward Erik Metzger.

“I think it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds to his supporting cast,” Lisbon coach Dan Sylvester said. “He had a lot of support last year with Metzger and his brother. This year, how he improves is how he takes on his leadership role. He may not have the production he had last year, but I think he understands that. His role has changed, and it’s a matter of what we can get out of those guys to produce.”

The Greyhounds have six other starters back, including George Clement, who had 16 goals last year, and Tyler Dupal, who had five. Ethan Brewer and Phil Carville are seniors in the midfield taking on larger roles, while sophomore Morgan Reeves should help as well.

“It’s different from last year with my brother being gone and all my friends being gone,” said Bubar, who led all of Western B in goals scored last year and already holds the Lisbon school record for scoring. “We’ve got a good team this year, and we should be solid.”

It will take some adjusting, not only for Bubar, but the players around him. Sylvester says that one of the biggest parts of the equation is Bubar’s ability to lead this club. He was the team’s MVP last year, the MVC Player of the Year and the Sun Journal Boys’ Player of the Year. 

“I think his leadership on the field has been phenomenal so far this year,” Sylvester said. “People are going to understand their responsibility. So even though himself, as an individual, may lose some on his end, we’re going to gain something on the team end of it.”

With so many seniors on the club a year ago, it was easy for Bubar to defer to their leadership. This year, he knows a vital part of his game is to help make those around him better. It is a role he has to adjust to, but one he’s ready to face.

“It’s not too bad,” Bubar said. “It’s nice to be up there, but the team kind of does it itself.”

One of the reasons the Greyhounds will need more than just Bubar leading the offense is because MVC foes will certainly key on him, figuring that stopping him might be enough to halt Lisbon. Bubar saw many double teams last year and expects even greater coverage this season. It means he’ll have to find ways to be effective, even if teams try to take him out of his game and frustrate him.

“I’ve got to be able to distribute the ball, and let the offense come to me instead of trying to make it go for myself,” Bubar said. “If other people start scoring, they’re going to have to mark them, too. That’s going to open up opportunities for everybody else.”

Lisbon went 13-1 last year and won the MVC title before losing a heartbreaker in the Western B quarterfinals to Freeport. The Greyhounds have the makings of a team that should contend in the MVC again and be a playoff team in Western B. Like he did last year, Bubar will play a significant role in that.

This year, he may lead as much with his example as with his scoring touch.

“I think it’s a challenge for him to do that this year,” Sylvester said. “I think the team is really looking to Marcus to lead them, and I think he’s definitely ready to do that. He know the weight is on his shoulders, and he’s ready to tackle that.”

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