Soccer boys host Aquinas Saturday

ABOVE: Brody Christiansen, as a goalkeeping candidate, leaps to stop this shot as the boys prepare for this week's season opener. BELOW: Sam Flatin controls the ball during dribbling drill as assistant coach Andrew Marschall observes. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
S. Lee Epps

Cohesiveness, experience and speed and could be the keys to progress for Caledonia/Spring Grove/Houston soccer boys as they embark on the 2018 campaign at home at noon this Saturday, Aug. 25.  Aquinas is again the opening opponent. 

"Always gives us a good gauge of where we are," said head coach Dan McGonigle, putting a positive tone on facing a perennially powerful opponent in the opener.

Entering his fourth season at the helm, McGonigle is optimistic the Warriors will be able to end an 18-game losing streak, including the   winless 0-17 campaign last fall. 

The boys have usually been overmatched against opponents' size, speed and maturity. While size is improved, it is still a challenge. But the coach includes team speed as strength for C/SG/H this fall. 

Addressing maturity, the Warriors will actually be younger than last year. Although C/SG/H again features four seniors, there are no juniors on the roster. 

Among the four graduating seniors from 2017 was the lone All-Three Rivers Conference standout Ryan Schroeder. 

But there will definitely be some quality experience; all four Warriors receiving honorable mention on the All-TRC honor squad do return for 2018 - seniors Seth Forrester and Alex Smith along with sophomores Nick Schmitz of Houston and Brody Johnson. 

Numerous letter winners are back, including seven to nine players who have some starting experience. Spring Grove sophomore Brody Christiansen is one of the experienced letter winners. Two other Spring Grove veterans, sophomore Sam Flatin and freshman Jonah Udstuen also experienced varsity action last autumn. Sophomore Jakob Myrah returns after a year away with injury.

Despite the lack of juniors, the current 34 players are the most in memory. There are more eighth graders than any other class, including SG students Nathan Solberg and Ayden Jansen. Seventh grader Caleb Ranzenberger is another SG neophyte.

McGonigle said this year's athletes have played soccer "together for some time, hang out together, care about each other and are good friends." He believes this cohesiveness will pay dividends on the soccer field.

Having as many as 30 players will allow the Warriors to have a split between varsity and junior varsity lineups. In the past, some younger players that saw significant playing time in varsity games also had to play major minutes again in order to have a JV game. Some fatigue was evident in the latter stages of JV contests.

McGonigle noted that preseason emphasis has been placed on "first touches," working on quickly gaining control of the ball.

A valuable asset is having former Warrior standout Andrew Marschall back as assistant coach for a second season. 

After Saturday's home opener, the boys will travel to Winona High on Tuesday, August 28. 

Caledonia/Houston/Sp. Grove BOYSSOCCER

*conference match. 7 p.m. unless noted

Sat. 8/25……..Aquinas 12 p.m.

Tues. 8/28… Winona

Tues. 9/04…*at Plainview-Elgin-Millville

Thur. 9/06…*St. Chas./Lewiston-Altura

Sat. 9/08…… Schaeffer Academy 1 p.m.

Mon. 9/10….*at Dover-Eyota

Thur. 9/13…*La Crescent-Hokah

Sat. 9/15……..Pine Island 2:30 p.m.

Tues. 9/18…*at Cotter 5 p.m.

Thur. 9/20…*Plainview-Elgin-Millville

Tues. 9/25…*at St. Chas./Lewiston-Altura

Thur. 9/27…*Dover-Eyota

Mon. 10/01….Stewartville

Tues. 10/02..*at La Crescent-Hokah

Thur. 10/04..*Cotter