Boys soccer team aiming high

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

The ending still bothers anyone and everyone associated with the program.

But perhaps Middleton’s boys soccer team can turn that unpleasant performance into a positive.

The Cardinals, seeded third, lost to 14th-seeded West Allis Hale in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs last season. Now, as Middleton prepares to begin its season Thursday at Mount Horeb, it hopes to use that painful loss as motivation in 2015.

“That defeat does not sit well with me and the returners,” Cardinals coach Ben Kollasch said. “I think the large group of newcomers allows us to move on from that loss, while we still have a few returners that can remember it and use it to motivate the rest.

“It is not useful to dwell too much on a loss. Soccer is a game where any team can win on a given day and we need to prove our mettle every time out. We will move forward and I am sure I will bring up the loss to the team at the appropriate time, but as a coaching staff we are starting out fresh with mentality that this is a brand new team with a brand new season ahead.”

The Cardinals have a solid blend of returnees and gifted newcomers they hope can produce a solid season.

Middleton’s top returnee is all-state junior forward Bradan Allen. A year ago, Allen led the Cardinals in goals (13), assists (six) and points (32).

“We look for a repeat of Bradan's breakout performance last year,” Kollasch said.

Senior forward Gabe Garlough-Shah was fifth on the team in scoring last year and is someone Kollasch is expecting biug things from.

“He’s a fiery player who does not like to lose,” Kollasch said.

Senior defender/midfielder Colin Ledin seems poised for a big year, as well.

“We’re counting on him to have more of an attacking role this year,” Kollasch said.

Senior Zach Whritenour was a key midfielder last season and should play an even bigger role this year.

“He will keep our midfield and defense together and we hope to get him chances to attack,” Kollasch said.

Junior Ryan Peyton was a starting outside back last year and will anchor the defense in the center this season. 

Junior Brendon Martin split time in goal last year and finished with an .831 save percentage and a 1.24 goals against average. This year, the keeper job will likely be Martin’s alone.

“Brendon's experience in the Big Eight last year should create a galvanized stopper for us in the net,” Kollasch said.

Middleton had a large senior class last year and has several newcomers it will need to produce immediately.

Kollasch expects James Handel to step in and be one of the Cardinals’ better defenders.

“James … will jump right in as a Big Eight quality player,” Kollasch said. “He should get lots of time as a defender and might even move into the midfield depending on the situation.”

Josep Costajussa-Tellez, an exchange student from Spain, will be an immediate contributor.

“He has a great attacking mind and a soft touch with the ball on his foot,” Kollasch said. “He should be exciting to watch.”

Junior Max Raisleger had an impressive fall camp and grabbed a starting role on defense.

“Max has shown that he can defend anyone that comes his way with intensity, patience and intelligence,” Kollasch said. “He may drift around to any of the defensive roles, but he will anchor our middle for now.”

And sophomore Derek Waleffe can play both offense and defense.

“Derek can play offense and defense with style and class,” Kollasch said. “He can attack from our defense or expose teams in the center mid. He could lead our team in any number of categories. A player to watch.”

Kollasch certainly thinks he has a team to watch.

Middleton has just six returnees and six seniors. Beloit Memorial, Madison Memorial and Madison West also appear to have terrific teams.

But Middleton believes it can surprise.

“The Big Eight is a tough as ever, especially for a team as young as ours,” Kollasch said. “There are almost no easy games in the conference any more.

“Our sectional will now add Kettle Moraine, who is always a tough team. We will have a tough road but I think we may surprise people.

“This team may be young and unproven at this level, but they are ambitious in their goals. We feel we can compete for the conference title and a state berth, like any other year.”

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