Less than a week away from their season opener, the Cape Henlopen boys soccer team is ready to take a step forward after last year’s standout season.

After fighting head-to-head with Caesar Rodney down the stretch but falling short in the highly competitive Henlopen North Division, the Vikings finished 12-3, advancing to the Division I DIAA Boys Soccer state semifinals.

Cape Henlopen opens their season on the road, Friday, Sept. 7 at Sussex Academy. The first home contest will be Monday, Sept. 17 against Worcester Prep (Md.).

Cape lost nine seniors from last year’s team and half of this year’s squad underclassmen. However, Cape Henlopen head coach Patrick Kilby feels good about where the team is now.

“Everything seems to be positive, I think our program is trending up,” Kilby said. “We know we’re young, but very talented. Out of the 20 guys on varsity we’ve got 13 club players, so we feel good in that regard. Last year’s team relied on a core of players, this year’s talent is more dispersed around depth.”

Preseason is a time for player evaluation, where coaches figure out what roles players will have. Kilby and his staff aim to put the preseason to good use as they iron out the remaining position battles.

“We need to figure out who our starting goalkeeper is. We’re looking at Jair Marin-Quiroz and Forest Dotterer,” Kilby said. “At our outside mid positions, Troy Humphries filled that last year, we’re looking at Gary Hayes, Thomas Copeland and Ilarion Swallow, we’re still not sure who is starting there. We also need a starter on the backline slot where we’re looking at Nathan Loucks, Nick Vieira and Jair Mancilla. Those are the roles that we need to focus on.”

Along with evaluating each position, Cape is experimenting with different formations on the field.

“We’re looking at implementing two or three different formations, a 4-5-1, 3-5-2 and 4-4-2,” Kilby said. “We’re trying to figure out which will work best going forward.”

Helping move things along smoothly have been the team’s leaders, including senior defender Dane Palmer, senior midfielder Bradley Seneus and junior midfielder Kannex Camarco.

“These guys are ballers, they can absolutely play this game with ease,” Kilby said. “They can bang if they want to and they can play with finesse. Those three guys have done a fantastic job being vocal leaders, pushing the guys and making sure we’re moving forward and holding up that positive standard.”

Kilby believes his team is hungry for more success.

“We know we’re young, we’re looking to not fall off from the production level from last year,” Kilby said. “We’re definitely competing for a Henlopen Conference championship. Last year losing to CR left a bad taste in our mouth. We hope to put ourselves in the situation where we were last year and take care of business.”