Boys soccer preview: The outlook for Rochester's teams in 2020
An inside look at the boys' soccer teams at Century, Mayo, Lourdes, John Marshall and Schaeffer Academy.
Head coach: Hal Houghton
Last season: The Panthers faced a daunting schedule and eeked out a 7-9-1 record. Houghton's crew lost seven of the last 10 games, but they were competitive in each of them. They lost a heartbreaking five matches by one goal. They battled a terrific Austin squad before falling 2-1 in the regular-season finale. They finished with a rock-solid 6-4-1 in the Big 9.
Outlook: Century has a chance for a breakout 2020 season. Eight starters return and five more guys who played a ton will be back too. It starts with Josh Christensen. He was a captain and an All-Conference selection. Oh, and he was a second-team All-State choice. He does it all for the Panthers. Max Comfere is a big-time addition too. Comfere played in eight games last season and had a goal or assist in each of them. But injuries forced him to miss half the year. Now, he's healthy and he's a force. Max Sargent, Markus Melsness and Rivaldo Pena will give Houghton a veteran presence. Charlie Odell is going to start in goal for the second year in a row. "He had a lot to do with our successes last year," Houghton said. "I expect him to continue to improve throughout the season."
Coach Houghton says: "We return eight starters from last year and another five who had significant playing time throughout the season. We were young last year and made mistakes that younger teams make. I look for this group to improve on our conference record of 6-4-1 and 4th place tie finish last year."
Seniors: Max Sargent, Josh Christensen, Markus Melsness, Jacob Watson, Hunter Smith. Juniors: Max Comfere, Rivaldo Pena, Noah Oachs, Abdullahi Aabi, Noah Gjervik, Sam Odell, Jay Whitney, Luke Dallman, Ben Johnson, Charlie Sadosty, Jameson Bargfrede, Austin Crane, Charlie Odell.
Head coach: Neil Cassidy
Last season: The Spartans finished 2019 with a rock-solid 9-5-5 record. The five ties were especially hard to come to grips with as the Spartans were oh so close to a super special season. The Spartans were 5-2-4 in Big 9 play, and they lost to Lakeville South in the Section 1AA championship game.
Outlook: There's a new sheriff in town. Neil Cassidy takes over for Dr. Charles Abboud. Cassidy believes that the Spartans will play a different brand of soccer, but he doesn't want to let the cat out of the bag early. But he will say that he believes he has the horses to implement his new scheme. Cassidy had a ton of players come out for tryouts, so the interest has been super high. The Spartans have had three winning seasons in a row. They'll look to make it four straight in 2020.
Coach Cassidy says: "When a new guy comes in, there can be an adjustment period. But they've been fantastic to work with and very open. Great questions. They're trying to get to know me on a personal level as well as a soccer level, and I'm trying to do the same. It's been really good chatting with them."
Bryan Islas Aguirre, Xavier Laack, Alec McBane, Adam Mclellan-Cassivi, Yonis Muse, Timothy Persons, Alexander Shah, Charles Busch, Kyle Doppler, Luke Drake, Luis Lopez, Adam McPhail, Zachary Spindler-Krage, Miguel Zuniga, Tristan Moore, Gio Castillo, Alan Zuniga, Koe Forsthoffer, Kyle Prindle, Nicklas Crockett, Jonathan Sedarski, John (Jack) Hobday, Grahame Grinnell
JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS
Head coach: Abdul Noor
Last season: It was tough sledding for the Rockets last season. They finished 1-10-2. Their only win came midway through the season when they dismantled Red Wing 4-1. But they showed some major fight late in the season when they battled a tough Rochester Century team right to the end before falling 2-1.
Outlook: Captains Aaron Shue and Lucas Fagan will be extremely motivated to get the Rockets back on track. Parker Navitsky was a standout football player, and he's out to try and earn the starting keeper job. The Rockets have won just five games over the past three years. They're trying to create a different culture and a winning mindset. They have some talented youngsters coming up. 2020 could be a year where the record doesn't show the progress that the Rockets have made. They're building for something bigger and better.
Coach Noor says: "I am hoping to build team unity and I'm very excited for the boys that we've selected throughout our tryouts. I think we've selected the right way. I think we've put each player at the place that they can thrive and compete. I think we'll be competitive with any of the other teams that we play this year. I really hope we can get that momentum and prove to others and ourselves that we can really compete with the rest of the teams in our conference."
Seniors: Parker Navitsky, Abdishakur Hassan, Owen Thorpe, Zakaria Muhumed, Lucas Fagan, Ahmad Najya, Aaron Shue. Juniors: Carson Settel, Raed Alobeid, Ojulu Nywatich, Clark Emmitt, Keith Fuhrmeister. Sophomores: Jon McBroom, Nathan Kopecky, Ralph Nah, Dani Al Attoza, Ian Carter, Holter Robinson, Christian Carranza. Freshmen: Mechwa Meermarew, Abdul-Aziz Mohamud
Head coaches: Tom Kane, Sean Kane
Last season: Lourdes was phenomenal last year, racking up 12 wins and a 5-1 record in the HVL. They had an incredible 11 shutouts and advanced all the way to the Section 1A title game where they fell 3-2 to Austin.
Outlook: Keeper Jaxon Hopkins will enter his senior season as one of the best goalies in the state. He allowed just 0.89 goals per game last year. The Lourdes' defense will be stout because of Hopkins and the guys in front of him. Trent Nuff (five goals, five assists) will be one to watch and so will Joey Lonzo. The sophomore forward dished out five assists and added two goals last year. They'll be very young but Lourdes has a tradition of success for a reason. They're trying to make Tom Kane's 25th and final season a special one.
Coach Tom Kane says: "We are a very young team and graduated most of our scoring so we will have nine new starters that we are looking forward to developing. With COVID-19 wiping out summer soccer we are dealing for the first time with players that haven’t played since last fall/winter so trying to get them ready as fast as we can. We also are hoping to finish the season and wait on MSHSL to determine if there is going to be a postseason. This will be my 25 th and last season and I will be co-coaching with my son Sean who will take over next year so we are fortunate to have a season and just hoping it completes safely for all."
Seniors: Jaxon Hopkins, Jack Jakub, Jonathon Onigkeit, Jason Kaiya, Graham Hopkins, Jack Train, Will Pluwtowski, Jackson Brinkman. Juniors: Jonah Morris, Trent Neff, Conor Kane. Sophomores: Cole Smith, Colin Nigwagaba, Joey Lonzo, Xavier Stevermer, Johnny Fitzjunker. Freshmen: Tommy Karau, John Novak, Charlie Young
Head coach: Todd Nagel
Last season: The Lions got off to a hot start in 2019, winning three of their first four games. But they struggled a tad down the stretch. They won their opening-round game against Kasson-Mantorville 5-0 before falling to St. Charles/Lewiston-Altura 2-1 to finish their season 7-8-1.
Outlook: It'll be interesting to see if Nagel and the Lions can make some noise in 2020. Luke Bothun is a scoring machine who's a matchup nightmare for opponents. Bothun is one of five starters that are returning for the Lions. Schaeffer has won at least seven matches for three years in a row. They'll try to make it No. 4 this year.
Coach Nagel says: "The team as a whole is a good group of guys that have a great attitude and look forward to growing over the season."
Returning starters: Colton Barnacle, Jake Maynard, Luke Bothun, Pierre O'Driscoll, Peter Wolfe