Over the last three months, the 2013 Waconia boys’ soccer team proved why this season will go down in Wildcat history. With their best season ever, the Wildcats not only captured their third Wright County Conference title, but their second Section 6A title over Breck and second state entry.
Waconia won its first state tournament game for the first time and went on to tie for third in Class A, the highest finish ever for a WHS soccer squad.
With high standards stemming from the 2012 team, which captured the team’s first section title and state entry, these 2013 Wildcats took to the challenge and strengthened an already strong program, establishing their own unique team identity, according to WHS head coach Tyrel Seim.
“I have been here nine years,” he said. “Remembering my first year where it was hard to win a game always keeps me grounded and allows me to share with current players all the work that was put in before them to get to where we are today.”
After losing many starters from the 2012 team, the Wildcats were unsure was to expect in 2013.
“We had no idea what this year was going to be like,” Seim said. “Our first goal was 11 wins we set as a team. To finish 17-2-3 and placing third at state after graduating 14 seniors last year was pretty awesome.”
The regular season stacked up W’s in the win column for WHS, as the Wildcats mowed through the conference teams twice, and picked up 13 straight victories, segmented by two tied games, one against Holy Family, the other against Orono.
The regular season ended with a loss to Chanhassen, but that slight misstep only spurred the ‘Cats to defeat Southwest Christian and Holy Family in postseason play to land in the Section 6A finals once again against Breck.
In a 2-1 shoot out victory on Oct. 15, the ‘Cats clinched their second Section 6A title and advanced to the state tournament, where they drew the No. 2 seed and took down Hermantown 5-0 in the first round.
In the Class A semifinals, the ‘Cats met a tough Hill-Murray team that gave Waconia only its second loss of the season.
“Losing to Hill-Murray 1-0 in the semis was tough,” Seim said. “We felt we had some chances to score but we need to give the other team credit, they were really good.”
In the third place game, the Wildcats tied 2-2 with Sartell-St. Stephen to share third place honors and mark Waconia’s highest team finish ever.
Seniors Marcel Montiel and Charlie Spurbeck led the Wildcat attack this season, with 12 goals each, while senior James Nash added an additional 10, complimented by nine goals from junior Anthony Shuster. Senior Mason Tuttle, senior Ethan Komro, and junior Tim Widmer each scored four goals this season, while junior Truen Breegemann scored three, senior Nik Bohman, junior Jacob Stevenson, sophomore Parker Aschenbrenner, and senior John Rogers had two a piece, and junior Austin Bruggeman, senior Jack Dirnberger, and junior Kenny Siebert each scored one.
Nash set a new single season school record with his 18 assists, while Montiel (10) and Spurbeck (7) also topped the assists list.
As a team, the Wildcats scored 69 goals, while only allowing 14 to be scored on them, thanks to a stellar defensive effort.
Beyond a strong regular defensive line of senior Kevin Kittleson, Bruggeman, and Tuttle, Rogers played 18 games in goal, making 98 saves in over 1,300 minutes in the net. With a save percentage of .907, Rogers allowed just 10 goals in his 18 games. When Rogers was injured early in the ‘Cats Oct. 12 game against Holy Family, Dirnberger stepped into the role of goalkeeper and carried Waconia through the rest of the season. In his five games in net, Dirnberger made 35 saves and allowed just four goals, for a save percentage of .897 in his 419 minutes of play. Together, Rogers (10) and Dirnberger (2) had 12 shutout games for WHS.
While the team might be a little younger next season, with more juniors and sophomores on the varsity pitch, a handful of quality starters will return in Bruggeman, Breegemann, Aschenbrenner, Stevenson, and Shuster.
“The more I think about how solid those players are, the less I actually worry about next year,” Seim said. “We lose a lot, (but) if our kids work hard in the offseason in the weight room, on their individual skills and playing on their summer teams, we will be competitive once again.”
Seim said next season the team will once again begin with modest, achievable team goals.
“We will start with reasonable goals like we always do and adjust them as necessary,” he said.
Graduating seniors include Bohman, Dirnberger, Kittleson, Komro, Jacob Livermore, Montiel, Nash, Rogers, Spurbeck, and Tuttle.
Ten different Wildcats received some form of All-Conference Honor for their efforts this season including All-Conference honorees Rogers, Nash, Montiel, Spurbeck, Kittleson, and Tuttle, as well as Honorable Mention award winners Bohman, Dirnberger, Bruggeman, and Breegemann.
Nash received an All-State honor for his 10 goals and 18 assists this season, while both Nash and Bohman were named to the Class A All-Tournament team at the state tournament.
The team held its annual banquet on Nov. 11 and gave out team-voted awards. Team awards included Team MVP (Spurbeck), Playoff MVP (Dirnberger), Season MVP Forward (Montiel), Playoff MVP Forward (Nash), Season MVP Midfield (Spurbeck), Playoff MVP Midfield (Breegemann), Season MVP Defense (Kittleson), Playoff MVP Defense (Bohman), Most Improved (Stevenson), and Hardest Worker (Breegemann).
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]