While Baylor returns three senior leaders on its boys' soccer front line, the defending state champions are rather young elsewhere.
The arrival of freshman instant playmaker David Danquah, though, looks to help quite a bit.
The Ghana native was sharp in a 2-0 victory over Chattanooga Christian School to start Baylor Tournament play on the Red Raiders' stomping grounds Friday night.
With flashy footwork, Danquah fooled a defender to square up a clear look from just beyond the top arc outside the penalty box. His left-footed boot sizzled through the air and shot off the diving keeper's arms into the top left of the net for the opening goal in the 10th minute.
Senior center forward Christian Stophel, who added the game's other score in the 14th minute on a penalty kick, is excited about the young talent.
"One of the special things about Baylor is we have so many international kids coming in," Stophel said. "David helped with the girls' soccer team in the fall, and I think that helped him open up, and now he's really jelling with us.
"He is a part of the family. After losing so many players last year, it's great to have him, because he fits so well in the midfield spot."
Danquah finished with four shots on goal, most of which required extra effort from Chargers sophomore goalkeeper Eli Honeycutt. The lanky keeper was a vacuum in the second half as he did not budge in keeping a respectable fight.
CCS (1-1) struggled offensively, as its only shot sailed above the crossbar right before the halftime whistle.
"At halftime Eli told me, 'Coach, I gave up two, but we are not going to give up any more.' I am proud of the way our boys played in the second half," Chargers coach Gene Nelson said. "Nathan Connor played really well at center back, and Nathan Norman played some nice balls down the sideline."
Led by the defensive contributions of Mac Jett, Nathan Webb, Carter Smith, Hunter Miller and keeper Charlie Hooks, Baylor (2-1) finished with its first clean slate of the season after a 4-0 loss to the nation's third-ranked Lambert (Suwanee, Georgia) and a 3-1 win over Calhoun. A clearance by Jett nearly helped start a scoring run to John Musick early.
"We are still a work in progress and learning who we are and how we want to play," Baylor coach Curtis Blair said. "It's nice to see us gain some rhythm tonight. Our younger guys are catching on quickly. It's going to be fun to watch their development."
The Red Raiders will play Signal Mountain at noon Saturday, with the winner advancing to the tournament final at 6 p.m. against either Oak Ridge or Alabama's Bob Jones.