Update: The Waconia boys’ soccer team clinched their second consecutive Wright County Conference title Tuesday night, Sept. 25, with a 2-1 win over Orono.
With an 11-0-1 season record, all the Waconia boys’ soccer teams needs is one win this week over either Orono or Mound-Westonka to clinch their second consecutive Wright County Conference title. The Wildcats lead the WCC with a 7-0-1 record, over Mound-Westonka (5-1-1). Waconia inched closer to the title last week, with victories over Delano, Holy Family, and Chaska.
Waconia 1, Delano 0
Hosting Delano on Sept. 18, the game remained scoreless throughout the first half. Senior Nick Dirnberger scored the Wildcats’ game-winning, and only, goal of the game on a pass from senior Seth Krueger. The Wildcats had other shots on goal, but were unable to put the game away. Senior goalie Brandon Gonzalez made eight saves for the shutout. Head coach Tyrel Seim said the team is focused on putting teams away early in the game and not letting them hang on like Delano did.
Waconia 2, Holy Family 1
For the first time all season, the Wildcats found themselves behind on the scoreboard against Holy Family on Sept. 20. Midway through the first half, the Fire got back Gonzalez to lead 1-0. The WHS offense responded with a goal of its own. With help from senior Mitch Zebell and junior Marcel Montiel, senior William Schultz was able to get the ball to the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. With 11 seconds to go in the half, Zebell had a deep throw into Holy Family territory, which Krueger chest trapped and fired past the goalie to put the Wildcats up 2-1.
The Fire stepped up the pressure in the second half and shut down the Waconia offense. Seim said this game was good for the team to learn about itself.
“When we were down early, we didn’t panic and fall apart,” he said, “but instead, we played with more focus knowing we needed to at least tie the game up before halftime.”
Waconia 2, Chaska 0
For the third time in a week, the Wildcats found themselves under pressure from a talented offense, this time in the form of the Chaska Hawks on Sept. 22. The Waconia defense, anchored by senior sweeper Ben Kullman, was able to keep Chaska away from goal, forcing long shots that Gonzalez saved.
Seim said the Wildcats were tired from the Holy Family game, and it showed in the first half against Chaska.
Junior James Nash scored both goals for the Wildcats in the second half, the first off a throw from senior defender Ryan Christensen, the second on a throw from Zebell.
The Wildcats have now tallied nine shutouts in 12 games this season, only allowing three goals, all in thanks to a stellar Waconia defense. The all-senior defense of Gonzalez, Kullman, Ryan Christensen, Tyler Christensen, Dan Butz, and Alex Herman have been consistent all season and rarely get the credit they deserve, Seim said.
“I just shake my head sometimes at the plays these guys make under pressure and say to the bench, “are you kidding me, did they just do that?”” Seim said. “It really is unbelievable how composed these guys are in any circumstance.”
The regular season wraps up next week at Hutchinson and Chanhassen.