Coach: Mike Bruggeman
Assistant coaches: Tom Kullman, Ivan Woyno, and Wade Loutzenhiser
Captains: Bailey Breeggemann and Jacey Zapf
Conference: Wright County
Section: 6A – Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Bethany Academy, Breck, Delano, Holy Family, Mound-Westonka, Orono, Providence Academy, Rockford, Southwest Christian, Watertown-Mayer, International School of Minnesota, Mayer Lutheran, and West Lutheran
2012 finish: After a few season of decline, the Wildcats saw improvement in 2012 under a mostly new coaching staff. Waconia finished third in the conference with a 6-4-1 record, and was 7-9-2 overall on the season. Playing some of their best soccer at the end of the season, the Wildcats advanced through the first round of Section 6A by defeating Southwest Christian. The season unfortunately ended in the second round with a 4-2 loss to Holy Family.
Key returnees: All-Conference Honorable Mention midfielder returns to the pitch this season, along with her fellow seniors in Jacey Zapf, Sam Laumann, Bailey Breeggemann, MacKenna Trnka, and Kenzie Hedlund, all of whom contributed significant varsity time last season.
Hedlund and junior Marae Vipond split time in goal last season and head coach Mike Bruggeman said both are strong and ready for the season.
“The goalkeepers got a good challenge going,” he said, as the two battle for the starting spot.
Most other names on the varsity roster are familiar, as juniors Trina Rinke, Shannon Conway, Emily Zempel, Liz Honnold, and Shannon Conway all return. Jaidyn Zapf also returns to the varsity squad for her sophomore season.
“The pipeline is good,” Bruggeman said. “The bar has been raised.”
Key newcomers: The Wildcats are in the process of pulling up some talented junior varsity players from last season, so keep an eye out for Claire Sites, Erin Nagy, Haley Schoenfelder, and others to log some varsity minutes this year.
Teams to beat: Last year’s conference front runners Orono and Holy Family remain the teams with targets on their backs.
“Those are the teams every year to beat,” Bruggeman said.
Most of the Wildcats’ 2012 losses were to Orono, Holy Family, and larger schools like Chanhassen and Shakopee.
Goals: As the Wildcats peaked near the end of last season, Bruggeman wants to start there.
“Just pick up where we left off last year,” he said.
But to do that, the Wildcats are facing two challenges. With the departure of Kayla Christensen and Kelly Luce, who scored most of the Wildcats’ goals last season, this season’s ‘Cats will be looking for more girls to start scoring goals.
In addition, the Wildcats are already fighting an uphill battle against some lingering injuries. Between knees, ACLs, a torn meniscus, and a concussion, “we’re got a lot of beat up players coming in,” Bruggeman said.
Team cohesiveness is also a goal of this year, but the Wildcats are always working on that. The entire girls’ soccer program, from the C team on up participated in last week’s Relay for Life of Waconia. Volunteering in the morning and then walking overnight, the Wildcats raised over $1,700 for Relay for Life and were ranked 11th overall in monies raised.
First game: The Wildcats kick off the season at home on Friday, Aug. 23 against section competitor Watertown-Mayer. Waconia dives into the conference the follow week with Orono, Delano, and Holy Family on the slate.
“We’re pretty heavy on the early difficult schedule,” Bruggeman said.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]