Boys’ soccer preview: New coaches, high expectations highlight strong programs

Quality play is one way to describe the potential for boys’ soccer this fall, given the Class AA state runner-ups (Blaine) return several players alongside traditional powerhouse Anoka.

Blaine's Noah Bruder, right, is one of several players looking for a return to state in 2013. Photo by Jason Olson

Blaine’s Noah Bruder, right, is one of several players looking for a return to state in 2013. Photo by Jason Olson

Questions remain around Coon Rapids to see if they can replicate another run into the section final under new head coach, Mark Marszalek. A similar question surrounds Spring Lake Park who turned over nearly the entire coaching staff and graduated 10 starters from last season. The new Panthers coaching staff should be more than capable to continue the success established over eight seasons by Josh Smothers who left for Stillwater during the winter.

New coach Ryan Manning has a powerful set of assistants including varsity assistant coach Jennifer Manning (McElmury), Ryan’s wife. Jennifer’s name might be familiar to Gophers fans as a three-time all-american, inducted into the Hall of Fame and had her jersey retired by the program.

Andover was off to a 1-1 start through Aug. 23. The Huskies offense erupted in an 8-3 win against Rogers in the season and home opener Aug. 22.

They settled with a 1-1 tie against Minneapolis Roosevelt the next day, Aug. 23.

The Huskies are coming off a 2-7-1 record for 10th in the Northwest Suburban Conference and 4-10-2 overall, losing the opening round of the Section 7AA tournament.

 

Anoka

Anoka is coming off a runner-up finish in sections, despite an 8-10-1 record and a fourth place finish in the Northwest Suburban Conference.

The Tornadoes return nine starters including forward Roland Oyou, sweeper Gavin Putt and midfielder Travis Mushuga.  Oyou, Mushuga and Blake Neuman return with all-conference honors.

 

Blaine

The Class AA state runner-ups return seven regulars from last season’s squad that went 16-4-1 en route to a second place finish in the Northwest Suburban Conference and Section 7AA title.

Senior captain and forward Jason Scheeler returns after collecting 13 assists and four goals. He also earned all-conference and all-tournament honors. Asher Bates returns alongside Scheeler at the top and earned all-conference honorable mention honors after scoring 10 times and adding two assists.

The majority of the midfield returns including seniors Jeremiah Strand (three goals, six assists) and captain Noah Bruder (three goals, six assists) with junior Tyler Johnson (six goals, two assists). Two defensemen also return in senior captain Jake Slow and Zach Brunko (seven assists). Junior defenders Jordy Hagen and Nathaniel Jacobson will have an impact on the starting rotation this season. Coach Berry Arrowsmith describes Hagen as a big, strong and smart defender while Jacobson compliments with a tenaciousness for finding the ball and speed.

 

Coon Rapids

New head coach Mark “Paco” Marszalek is a familiar face around the Coon Rapids program. The Class of 1990 Coon Rapids graduate has been a part of the program over the last 16 seasons coaching at the sophomore and junior varsity levels.

The Cardinals are coming off an impressive 2012 (11-5-3 overall) in which the team was within one win of the state tournament, losing to eventual state runner-up Blaine in the Section 7AA final, 6-2.

Coon Rapids returns two of its top four scores from last season and only three starters including senior midfielder Trevor Tallaksen, forward Tony Kruchten and defender Ryan Nelsen. Three returning letter winners who Marszalek expects to contribute include junior midfielder Kaelib Dougall, senior forward/midfielder Austin Kolden and senior midfielder/forward Zach Miscowiec.

Coon Rapids opened the new season on a strong note with a 5-3 win against non-conference foe St. Francis Aug. 22.

 

Spring Lake Park

After eight seasons of building the Panthers boys’ soccer program, Jake Smothers moved on to join the storied program at Stillwater.

The move opened the door for a nearly entirely new coaching staff for 2013, led by Ryan Manning. C-squad coach Jim Kirberger is the only returning coach.

Manning served as an assistant coach for the White Bear Lake boys’ program over the last three seasons and before that assisted the girls’ team at Stillwater.

Mannings’ wife, Jennifer (McElmury) will serve as assistant coach with the varsity program. She was one of the all-time greats for the Gophers’ program as a three-time all-american, was inducted into the Gophers’ Hall of Fame and had her jersey retired. She spent time with the US Womens’ National team.

Andy Lorei, who played professionally for five seasons, the last two with the Minnesota professional franchise and will lead the JV. Peter McKeown will coach the B-squad and is currently under contract with Minnesota United FC after starting for four years at Loyola University in Chicago.

Spring Lake Park Activities Director Matt St. Martin will also serve the program as a coach after playing at the D1 level in college.

Spring Lake Park graduated 10 starters from last season

Captains include Rigoberto Garcia, Eric Lundgren and Tyler Green.

Manning said the future of the program is bright with many talented freshmen and sophomores.

“We couldn’t be more excited for the direction the program is headed,” he said.

 

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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