New year, new team: Only six players return for Marshfield boys soccer
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The 2017 edition of the Marshfield High School boys soccer team will be much different than in years past.
With only six returning players and just four seniors, the Tigers enter the new campaign inexperienced on the varsity level.
Gone are 14 seniors from last year’s team that finished 12-8-4 overall and 6-5-1 in the always competitive Wisconsin Valley Conference and reached the WIAA Division 2 sectional final before losing 4-1 to New Richmond.
Marshfield ended last season strong, going 10-4-4 in its final 18 games, but this year’s team will require a largely new group to come together quickly. The Tigers opened their season Tuesday with a nonconference home game against Holmen and hosts Ashwaubenon on Thursday at Griese Park.
Junior Kevin Cassidy (four goals) and senior Grant Urban (three goals, one assist) are the only returning Tigers to have scored last season. A total of 69 of the 76 goals scored by the Tigers a year ago were from now graduated seniors.
Defensemen Tyler Meyer and David Gui and goalkeeper Matt Pahl are the team’s other three returning seniors. Junior Isaac Wellens, a midfielder, also is back for the Tigers.
“We have been fortunate to have senior-dominant teams the last three years but not this season,” Marshfield coach Steve McCann said. “We have a very enthusiastic group but are both young and inexperienced overall. We lost a lot of firepower for sure.”
Pahl, one of the Tigers’ co-captains, will step in to the starting goalkeeper spot with junior Austin Mannigel providing relief.
“Both are strong keepers, and we will be really solid in goal this season,” McCann said. “Matt has a strong leg for goal kicks and punts, so we will use this to our advantage for field position. He is also one of our key team leaders, and his leadership on and off the field will be key for us this year.”
Joining Urban at the forward position will be junior Blaine Neinast and freshmen Spencer Frey and Elijah Hubler-Marti.
Along with Meyer and Gui, the defense will be reinforced by juniors Dalton Halvorsen, Nate Boson, and Dawson Tysver; sophomore Ethan Lallemont; and freshman Alejandro Mayagoitia. Frey and Urban could also see time at the position.
McCann said the speed of the midfielders should help Marshfield be competitive. Wellens and Cassidy will be joined by sophomores Joshua Gruen, Bennett Koehn, Kyle Tremelling, Evan Weister, and Alexander Giles.
“We do have some tremendous speed in certain key positions,” McCann said. “Our optimal team formation and philosophy will be fluid, and with young and eager-to-learn players, I think this will bode well. I expect our central midfield will be strong with Wellens and Cassidy likely to play in this area.”
McCann said it is difficult to say how his young squad will fare in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, where defending champion D.C. Everest, Stevens Point, Wausau East, and Wausau West will provide stiff competition.
“If we really work well together as a team and can play at a sustained, high level of intensity, we may surprise some teams this year,” McCann said. “Our nonconference games include several Division 2 teams in our sectional: Tomah, Holmen, and Onalaska from the west and Pulaski and Ashwaubenon from the east. We also play Menasha and Appleton Xavier.
“I look forward to see what we can do. It will really be fun coaching this group this year. I set some team goals, and as we get going, we will see if the goals are attainable, or hopefully they can be surpassed.”
Following the two nonconference games this week to open the season, Marshfield begins WVC play Aug. 31 at Stevens Point and will take on Wisconsin Rapids in another home game on Sept. 5.