Head coach: Tyrel Seim
Assistant coaches: Chris Croucher, Dan Benham, and Jared DeWolf
Captains: Charlie Spurbeck and James Nash
Conference: Wright County
Section: 6A – Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Breck, Calvin Christian, Chaska, Delano, Holy Family, Mound-Westonka, Providence Academy, Rockford, Southwest Christian, Mayer Lutheran, and International School of Minnesota
2012 finish: The most successful season in team history, 2012 was one for the record books with back-to-back WCC titles, an undefeated regular season, a section championship, and a state tournament entry.
The ‘Cats finished 2012 18-1-1, with a WCC record of 11-0-1. The only tie of the season came at the beginning of September at Holy Family, before the Wildcats bulldozed through two rounds of conference competition to win 12 straight games.
Waconia easily moved through two rounds of section competition as the No. 1 seed and won a 2-1 section championship over Breck with 17 seconds left in double overtime.
The Cinderella season ended in a 2-1 state tournament loss to St. Paul Academy.
Key returnees: Graduation this spring took most of the mid- and backfields for Waconia. Fortunately, the ‘Cats return three of their top five scorers in Marcel Montiel (All-Conference HM), James Nash (All-Conference HM), and Charlie Spurbeck, who collectively score 23 goals last season.
Mason Tuttle is the only returning face to the defense, which loses 2013 graduates Ben Kullman (All-Conference, All-State) and goalie Brandon Gonzalez (All-State, All-Conference), among others.
Key newcomers: With so many spots to fill, Seim is lucky he has a talented pool to choose from.
Juniors Austin Bruggeman and Truen Breegemann will join the Wildcat midfield and attack, while seniors Jack Dirnberger and Kevin Kittleson, and junior Parker Aschenbrenner will join Tuttle in the backfield. Senior The goal keeper position is still up for grabs as multiple players battle it out the first few weeks.
Replacing the majority of the defense and the goaltender will bring a different team that in 2012.
“It’ll be different,” Seim said. “We lack a lot of experience.”
Other relatively new faces on the roster this season include seniors John Rogers, Jack Dirnberger, Ethan Komro, Jacob Livermore, and Nik Bohman, juniors Ben Hanson, John Haggenmiller, Tim Widmer, Jacob Stevenson, Camden Weppner, Jack Pogatchnik, Anthony Shuster, and sophomore Josh Reich.
Teams to beat: Of the conference teams, Orono and Holy Family are the top two on the Wildcats’ list. Around section time, it’s usually Breck and Benilde-St. Margaret’s, but the playoffs are still a long way off.
“Sections are so far away I try not to think about it,” Seim said.
Goals: Healthy players will be a goal this season. Seim said if the team health stays up, the Wildcats are in for a good run, but if not, “we’re pretty thin,” he said.
This year’s team will focus on team defense, possessing the ball, and building the attack.
“We try to make it look as pretty as possible,” Seim said.
First game: The Wildcats kicked off their 2013 campaign on Saturday, Aug. 24 with a close 1-0 overtime victory in Orono. Seim said the team was short-handed and playing on hot turf, but adjusted well to new varsity faces and positions.
“We didn’t know how out kids would respond to playing a tough team like Orono in our first game,” Seim said. “A win over a solid program like Orono is a great way to start the season.”
Three minutes into the OT period, Montiel was able to beat the Orono defense for a pass to Nash, which he then scored for the 1-0 victory.
Rogers tended goal for Waconia and had six saves for his first varsity shutout.
The Wildcats host Delano tonight at 5 p.m. and will host Holy Family on Tuesday, Sept. 3 before a road game at Mound-Westonka on Sept. 7.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com