Columbus Catholic soccer joins new conference
MSSC disbands, Dons to play in Central Wisconsin Conference
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic soccer team will move into a new conference this season after taking two of the past three championships in the Mid-State Soccer Conference, which included an unbeaten title season in 2016.
The MSSC was disbanded, and Columbus Catholic will now compete in the Central Wisconsin Conference. Much of the competition remains the same as Wausau Newman Catholic, Northland Lutheran, Stevens Point Pacelli, Tri-County, and Wisconsin Valley Lutheran have moved on with Columbus to join Amherst/Iola-Scandinavia/Rosholt and Gresham/Bowler in the new soccer-only conference.
McDonell/Regis is the odd team out in the old MSSC and will now play an independent schedule, which includes a home-and-home series with the Dons.
“We are in a new conference this season, joining some old faces and some new faces in the Central Wisconsin Conference,” Columbus Catholic coach Jeff Edwards said. “I believe we will be competitive in the conference and have a real shot at repeating as champions. The postseason is all about the matchups. We want to have a successful season to ensure a high seed for the playoffs. Playing at home in front of our fans is important, so we want to get those home games.”
Columbus shoots for its fifth-straight conference title overall with an experienced roster that includes six seniors and three returning all-MSSC selections, including two-time first-team pick Calvin Brown.
Second-team selections Nadim Torbey and Nick Malovrh also are back for the Dons, who finished 20-3 overall and 12-0 in conference play before losing in the WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals to Arcadia.
Columbus allowed just 17 goals all of last season, seven of which came in the 7-5 loss to Arcadia.
Torbey scored 23 goals, Malovhr had 12, and Brown 10 a year ago for the Dons.
The Dons did lose a lot of firepower, however, as Mid-State Player of the Year Tyler Fuerlinger and fellow all-conference selections Tim Gruenloh, Ryan Dieringer, Charles Payant, and goalkeeper Bailey Keffer all graduated.
“I think the strengths of this team will be midfield play and our possession of the ball,” Edwards said. “This team has shown great promise with (two to three) touches and distributing the ball to the target. Our depth is something we need to develop as the season progresses. Losing five seniors who were all-conference players has an impact. We need the underclassmen to step in and earn some playing time.”
Junior Kellen Heinzen is expected to handle goalkeeping duties.
Matt Olson, Noah Hansen, Zoe Stratman, and Ella Schultz join Malovrh and Brown as returning seniors.
Juniors Anna Roewe and Evan Dieringer; sophomores Tom Nystrom, Dylan Porter, Annika Brown, Addison Baierl, Zach Olson, Jonah Keffer, Lucas Reigel, Olivia Mahoney, and Kevin Nguyen; and freshmen Cole Heinzen, Wyatt Drexler, Sydney Mauritz, and Kellen Delaney round out the roster and will compete for playing time alongside the veterans.
Columbus opened its season at the Central Wisconsin Christian Kickoff Tournament on Aug. 25-26, in which it finished 1-2. Torbey scored five goals in the three games, including a hat trick in the opener against Neenah St. Mary Catholic.
Paul Lecker is the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This story is a corrected version of the original one posted on Aug. 31.