Soccer Looks to Book Return Trip to MAPFRE Stadium
The soccer team is off to a hot start so far in the 2019 season and hope to continue their success from last year. As the team had an incredible journey in the playoffs last year but they unfortunately fell short of their goal of winning state. However, I sat down with players and head coach Mike Welker and they told me there is lots to be excited about this season.
Last season the soccer team was extremely skilled. Ben Hegge led all of the GCL in points last season as the Crusaders went undefeated in the GCL, 19-2-3 overall, and were ranked #21 in the National Rank by MaxPreps. However, when important seniors such as Ben Hegge, Jordan Walters, and Adam Cusmano graduated last year it raised the question, who would step up and be the leaders this season?
The teams captains this year, Parker Grinstead, Jake Renneker, Connor Andrews, and Cal Collins have taken charge and plan on making this a great season.
So far the team is lighting it up and are currently first in the GCL. After a disappointing loss to Elder, the Crusaders are hoping to turn it around and become GCL champs for the third straight year.
Welker steers the ship
Coach Welker has been the head coach of Moeller’s team for four years now and made a tremendous impact right when he stepped into the head coaching spot. From coming dead last in the GCL the year before Welker became head coach, to winning it just two years later in 2017, just shows how Welker has truly turned this program around.
Before becoming head coach, Welker was the JVB coach for six years and was a graduate of Moeller in 2002. Welker told me that, “I would model my coaching style after Bob Huggins, I think I have a lot of his mannerisms I think I am more of a basketball coach and more fiery than a traditional soccer coach.
In terms of soccer, Welker really likes Pep Guardiola saying, “I would love to be Pep one day”. I asked Coach Mike Welker what goals he plans on accomplishing this year are, and he told me, “win the city title, win the GCL title, and beat St. X our second game.”
He then explained, “we’re on pace, we’re the number one team in the city and we’re top of the GCL right now”. There is lots to be excited for, not only for this year, but for many years to come. Welker said, “the future is good, we have six freshman who are getting minutes on varsity. Charlie Niehaus has scored two goals so far this year as a freshman, so we definitely have a lot of talent in the program, I would say I am highly focused on this year’s senior class, but for sure we have a lot of talent in the pipeline”.
Welker said there is lots for the students of Moeller to be excited about this year, giving us tons of reasons as to why more students should come out to more games this year saying, “I think we’re fun. We celebrate really hard. We play with lot of passion. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are a really good soccer team and we try to support others in the school and other sports.” He even gave the example of himself getting a yellow card for “celebrating too hard” after the late goal against St. X.
From the players perspective, many of them have high expectations for this season. Senior captain, Cal Collins said, “Obviously we are all very hopeful from our success from last season and we are really just trying to achieve and strive for what we had last season and even better.” The team this year is having a blast in the locker room this year as they told me their go to song was Bella Ciao.
If you need to know a little more about this year’s Crusader team, I asked the players the hard-hitting questions. The guys unanimously selected Parker Grinstead and Kade Tepe as the most skilled players on the team.
The fastest of the team is Eric Bronner with a 40 yard dash time of 4.60. While Lawson Brandon is known to be the funniest around the team. The players believe this team has what it takes to go the distance and when I asked if they were going to make it back to state, senior Eric Bronner gave me a simple one-word answer, “Yes”.
The Crusaders this season are excited for what else the season has in store for them and can guarantee a whole lot more wins.
As the regular season is coming to a close, the Crusaders are preparing to make a deep run in the playoffs and making it back to state for the second year in a row.