2012 Preview: Somerset boys soccer ready to make its move
In its fourth year as a varsity program, the Somerset boys soccer team is growing up.
The Spartans bring back their most experienced roster and they have a balanced team that is forcing opponents to take them seriously.
Last year the Spartans won five games. They are aiming much higher this season, targeting their first advancement into the upper half of the Middle Border Conference standings.
Second-year Spartan coach Bill Roll said the team is aiming to finish among the top three teams in the conference this season.
"They have higher expectations of themselves," Roll said. "They're a pretty tight group. They are on the same page on what they want to accomplish."
Last year may have been the turning point for the Spartans. They became a potent offensive team, while they worked to develop a cohesive defensive unit. With those pieces in place, the Spartans are ready to make the step up this season.
The offense is led by juniors Jon Bucklew and Gavin Meader, who combined for 49 goals last season. The third member of the offensive front will be sophomore Logan Wiederin.
Bucklew ranked among the top 15 goal scorers in the state last season. Roll said Bucklew ranks among the top three scoring threats in the conference, along with Amery's Jake Mullendore and New Richmond's Eric Miller. Bucklew has taken Wiederin under his wing to help him quickly learn the Spartan offensive approach. Wiederin, a hockey player, hasn't played soccer since elementary school.
Returning as the defensive wall for the Spartans are seniors Nate Olin and Jeremy Bucklew and juniors Josh Lee and Jake Scott.
"On the defensive end we're really improved with having all four back," Roll said. "They know what to expect from each other."
The Spartans are fortunate to have two experienced goalkeepers in junior Rhys Linke and sophomore Aaron Joppru. Joppru has gotten the early starts this season. Both are capable of playing in the field when they aren't in goal.
Playing across the midfield for the Spartans are juniors J.T. Karis, Ryan Vang and Thomas Bauer. They all benefitted from the experience of last season and are vastly different players from a year ago.
The bench for the Spartans consists of Linke, Sean Wells, Gage Kreucher and Ryan Newman.
The maturation of the team is something Roll is trying to build upon. He doesn't want the team getting too high or too low over any events. With the experience the team has collected, Roll said the Spartans also have the goal of getting a WIAA home tournament game for the first time. He said that will be a significant challenge, with Amery, Ashland, Rice Lake and Medford also in the regional bracket.
"This is the most experienced Somerset team ever. Our starting 11 is pretty strong," Roll said.