HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER PREVIEW: SEVEN TEAMS IN AREA LOOK FOR SUCCESS IN 2021


Columbus Catholic sophomore Alex Edwards returns to a Dons' squad that reached sectionals for the eighth-straight time last fall. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports


The 2021 high school boys soccer season is underway and seven teams in the Zaleski Sports coverage area all bring back key players in hopes that the fall will be a success on the pitch.


Columbus Catholic eyes a ninth-straight WIAA regional title, Marshfield will boast a strong defense and midfield with six players back from 2020, and Stevens Point returns to Wisconsin Valley Conference competition after competing in the Fox Valley Association during the alternate fall season earlier this spring.


Here is a look at the teams in our area:


AMHERST FALCONS

Coach: Erik Linde, eighth year.

Last year’s record: 3-2-1, 3-1-1.

Returning players: Parker Femal, LF; A.J. Everson, RF; Joey Ligman, CF; Drew Lewallen, DM; Jack Bohm, RWB; Jacob Spoelstra, LWB.

Key newcomers: Noah Spoelstra, CM; Spencer Cohen, CM; Alex Martin, goalkeeper.

From Coach Linde: “I expect to be competitive in conference and have scheduled some big games out of conference. We graduated eight senior starters, so we are trying to rebuild with a very young team.”

Schedule (home games in CAPS): Aug. 26 at Oshkosh Lourdes, 7:15 p.m.; Aug. 28 RIVER VALLEY, 11 a.m.; Aug. 28 MERRILL, 1:30 p.m.; Aug. 30 at Marshfield Columbus Catholic, 5 p.m.; Aug. 31 WAUTOMA, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 2 at Gresham/Bowler, 5 p.m.; Sept. 7 at Tri-County, 5 p.m.; Sept. 9 PACELLI, 5 p.m.; Sept. 11 at Wautoma Tournament, 8 a.m.; Sept. 13 NORTHLAND LUTHERAN, 5 p.m.; Sept. 16 at Wisconsin Valley Lutheran, 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at Lakeland Tournament, 9 a.m.; Sept. 20 at Wausau Newman Catholic, 5 p.m.; Sept. 23 MARSHFIELD COLUMBUS CATHOLIC, 5 p.m.; Sept. 27 GRESHAM/BOWLER, 5 p.m.; Sept. 28 at Mosinee, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 30 TRI-COUNTY, 5 p.m.; Oct. 4 at Pacelli, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 7 at Northland Lutheran, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 11 WISCONSIN VALLEY LUTHERAN, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 14 WAUSAU NEWMAN CATHOLIC, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 15 at Waupaca, 6:30 p.m.


COLUMBUS CATHOLIC DONS

Coach: Jeff Edwards

Last year’s record: 9-3, 3-1 Central Wisconsin Conference.

Returning players: Alex Edwards, so., forward, 14 goals, 10 assists in 2020; Grant Olson, jr., midfield, eight goals, five assists; Brandon Lang, jr., defender, one assist; Sammy Neville, jr. forward/midfield, one goal, one assist; Mira Torbey, jr., midfield, one assist; Charlie Moore, so., forward/midfielder, one goal, two assists; Cy Becker, so., defender, two goals, two assists; Brianna Duda, sr., defender.

Key newcomers: Lucas Kreklau, so., goalkeeper; Nathan Nemitz, so., defender; Josh Weiland, jr., defender; Josh Van Whye, so., defender; Ezra Duda, fr., forward/defender.

From Coach Edwards: “We have a young team, built with primarily juniors and sophomores. As our new goalie and a young defense find their rhythm, our offense will be firing on all cylinders with most of the pieces returning from last year. This team is capable of reaching all of their goals. In a tough conference, we expect to be near the top of the standings. A ninth-straight regional championship is something this team really wants.”

Schedule (Home games in CAPS, at Griese Park): Aug. 27-28 at Central Wisconsin Christian Crusader Kickoff; Aug. 30 AMHERST, 5 p.m.; Sept. 2 at Northland Lutheran, 5 p.m.; Sept. 7 GRESHAM/BOWLER, 5 p.m.; Sept. 9 at Wisconsin Valley Lutheran, 5 p.m.; Sept. 11 LA CROSSE AQUINAS, 11 a.m.; Sept. 13 at Pacelli, 5 p.m.; Sept. 16 WAUSAU NEWMAN CATHOLIC, 5 p.m.; Sept. 20 TRI-COUNTY, 5 p.m.; Sept. 21 at McDonell/Regis, 5 p.m.; Sept. 23 at Amherst, 5 p.m.; Sept. 25 NEKOOSA, 1 p.m.; Sept. 27 NORTHLAND LUTHERAN, 5 p.m.; Sept. 30 at Gresham/Bowler, 5 p.m.; Oct. 4 WISCONSIN VALLEY LUTHERAN, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 7 STEVENS POINT PACELLI, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 11 at Wausau Newman Catholic, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 14 at Tri-County, 4:30 p.m.


MARSHFIELD TIGERS

Coach: Jeff Molter, second year.

Last year’s record: 4-5-3 fifth place Wisconsin Valley Conference.

Returning players: Gavin Young, defender; Lukas Barth, defender; Braxton Kurth, defender; Julian Clopton, midfielder; Brett Mannigel, midfielder; Seth Jonas, goalkeeper; Zakary Meyer, goalkeeper.

Key newcomers: Keegan Fredrick, forward; Afton Hamil, forward/midfielder; Laurens Kersten, forward/midfielder; Matheus Molina, winger.

From Coach Molter: “Being moved to Division 1 (for the playoffs) this season, I expect us to be competitive in our conference. I’m not sure what to expect when we travel into the playoffs. I believe our midfield and defense will be strong this season with six of the seven positions being filled by returning players with a lot of varsity experience.”

Schedule (home games in CAPS, at Heiting Community Stadium): Aug. 28 PULASKI, 11:30 a.m.; Aug. 31 WISCONSIN RAPIDS, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 MERRILL, 7 p.m.; Sept. 7 at D.C. Everest, 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 WAUSAU EAST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 14 WAUSAU WEST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 18 at Holmen, 1 p.m.; Sept. 21 STEVENS POINT, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 at Wisconsin Rapids, 7 p.m.; Sept. 25 at Onalaska, 1 p.m.; Sept. 28 at Merrill, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 D.C. EVEREST, 7 p.m.; Oct. 2 HORTONVILLE, 11 a.m.; Oct. 5 at Wausau West, 4 p.m.; Oct. 7 at Wausau West, 4 p.m.; Oct. 12 at Medford, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 at Stevens Point, 7 p.m.


MOSINEE INDIANS

Coach: Joseph Carlson.

Last year’s record: 7-6, 5-4 tie for third place in Great Northern Conference.

Returning players: Toren Holtz, midfield, 23 goals, six assists in 2020; Cole Holtz, midfield, seven goals, 11 assists; Ethan Tazelaar, defender; Garrett Donohue, midfield, three assists last season; Keaton Wieloch, goalkeeper; Caden Schmirler, forward, five goals last season.

Key newcomers: Ondrej Napravnik, defender; Cole Kowalski, midfield; Jaeger Dhein, midfield; Colton Blank, defender.

From Coach Carlson: “We anticipate being competitive with every team we play. We have strength from forward to goalkeeper and experience returning at every level. Toren Holtz was an honorable mention All-State player last year, and he continues to lead our team well on the field and off of it. We hope to be in the mix for winning the Great Northern Conference. We look forward to playing deep in the playoffs. The Great Northern Conference will be balanced, with every single team capable of winning a given game. Medford and Rhinelander are conference favorites, but we hope to be close with them.”

Schedule (home games in CAPS): Aug. 24 WAUSAU EAST, 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 26 CLINTONVILLE, 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 28 SHAWANO, 10 a.m.; Aug. 28 APPLETON XAVIER, 2 p.m.; Aug. 31 at Northland Pines, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 2 ANTIGO (at Wausau), 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 7 WAUPACA, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 9 at Medford, 7 p.m.; Sept. 11 EAU CLAIRE NORTH, 11 a.m.; Sept. 14 RHINELANDER, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 16 at Lakeland, 7 p.m.; Sept. 20 MERRILL, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 23 NORTHLAND PINES, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 28 AMHERST, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 30 at Antigo, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 5 MEDFORD, 4 p.m.; Oct. 7 at Rhinelander, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 LAKELAND, 4 p.m.


PACELLI CARDINALS

Coach: Nick Weber.

Last year’s record: 3-6-2, 1-5-2 fourth place in Central Wisconsin Conference.

Returning players: Braden Austreng, jr., defender; Max Grabiec, so., forward, two goals, one assist in 2020; Matt Tippel, jr., forward; Dakota Wrezinski, jr., defender, one goal, one assist; Jacob Hasler, jr., midfielder, two goals; Cade Yenter, jr., midfielder;

Key newcomers: Grant Hinker, fr., defender/goalkeeper; Sam Grabiec, fr., midfielder; Braeden Flaker, fr., forward; Keegan Austreng, fr., midfielder; Tim Sackman, jr., midfielder; Malise Beduhn, fr., defender; Marcus Lansing, fr., midfielder; JoHanna Lehman, so., forward; Joshua Opaneye, fr., midfielder; Nathan Reimer, fr., defender.

Schedule (Homes games in CAPS): Aug. 26 WAUTOMA, 7 p.m.; Aug. 30 at Wausau Newman Catholic, 5 p.m.; Aug. 31 OSHKOSH LOURDES, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 at Wisconsin Valley Lutheran, 5 p.m.; Sept. 7 NORTHLAND LUTHERAN, 5 p.m.; Sept. 9 at Amherst, 5 p.m.; Sept. 11 at St. Mary Catholic, 1 p.m.; Sept. 13 MARSHFIELD COLUMBUS CATHOLIC, 5 p.m.; Sept. 16 at Tri-County, 5 p.m.; Sept. 18 at La Crosse Aquinas, 11 a.m.; Sept. 20 at Gresham/Bowler, 5 p.m.; Sept. 23 WAUSAU NEWMAN CATHOLIC, 5 p.m.; Sept. 27 WISCONSIN VALLEY LUTHERAN, 5 p.m.; Sept. 30 at Northland Lutheran, 5 p.m.; Oct. 4 AMHERST, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 7 at Marshfield Columbus Catholic, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 11 TRI-COUNTY, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 NEKOOSA, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 GRESHAM/BOWLER, 4:30 p.m.


STEVENS POINT PANTHERS

Coach: Derek Bell

Last year’s record: 9-4, 7-1 Fox Valley Association (alternate fall season in spring 2021).

Key returning players: Noah Hlavac, sr., defender, second-team all-Fox Valley Association in spring 2021; Colton Thielman, sr., forward, second-team all-Fox Valley Association; Owen Williams, sr., midfielder, second-team all-Fox Valley Association; Gabe Perez, sr., midfielder, honorable mention all-Fox Valley Association.

Schedule (home games in CAPS): Aug. 26 APPLETON EAST, 7 p.m.; Aug. 28 at Neenah, noon; Aug. 30 APPLETON NORTH, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 WISCONSIN RAPIDS, 7 p.m.; Sept. 7 at Merrill, 7 p.m.; Sept. 9 D.C. EVEREST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 14 WAUSAU EAST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 at Wausau West, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 17-18 at De Pere Invitational; Sept. 21 at Marshfield, 7 p.m.; Sept. 28 at Wisconsin Rapids, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 MERRILL, 7 p.m.; Oct. 5 at D.C. Everest, 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 at Wausau East, 4 p.m.; Oct. 12 WAUSAU WEST, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 MARSHFIELD, 7 p.m.


WISCONSIN RAPIDS RAIDERS

Coach: Kirk Willard

Last year’s record: 11-3, 10-2 second place Wisconsin Valley Conference.

Key returning players: Aiden Dunn, jr., defender, second-team all-WVC in 2020; Ben Weidman, so., midfielder, honorable mention all-WVC; Brandon Kaup, sr., midfielder; Adam Kaup, sr., defender; Aiden Bruns, sr., defender; Josh Fleck, sr., forward; Jackson Meyer, sr., midfielder/defender; Andrew Vold, sr., midfielder; Dalton Petersen, jr., goalkeeper.

Schedule (Home games in CAPS, at Washington Elementary School): Aug. 26 at Chippewa Falls, 7 p.m.; Aug. 28 at Medford Triangular, 10 a.m.; Aug. 31 at Marshfield, 7 p.m.; Sept. 2 at Stevens Point, 7 p.m.; Sept. 4 at De Pere, 1 p.m.; Sept. 9 MERRILL, 7 p.m.; Sept. 11 APPLETON EAST, 1 p.m.; Sept. 14 D.C. EVEREST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16 at Wausau East, 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 18 WISCONSIN RAPIDS INVITATIONAL, 9 a.m.; Sept. 21 WAUSAU WEST, 7 p.m.; Sept. 23 MARSHFIELD, 7 p.m.; Sept. 28 STEVENS POINT, 7 p.m.; Sept. 30 at Tomah, 5 p.m.; Oct. 2 SPARTA, 1 p.m.; Oct. 5 at Merrill, 7 p.m.; Oct. 7 at D.C. Everest, 7 p.m.; Oct. 9 HORTONVILLE, 1 p.m.; Oct. 12 WAUSAU EAST, 7 p.m.; Oct. 14 at Wausau West, 4 p.m.

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