New Richmond, Somerset place five on All-Middle Border Conference soccer team
With New Richmond and Somerset both ranking among the top three teams in the Middle Border Conference boys soccer race this season, it was fitting that both teams drew a large number of 2012 all-conference honors.
New Richmond and Somerset each had five players placed on this year's all-conference squad.
New Richmond had three players named to the All-MBC first team. Seniors Eric Miller and Jake Taubman were chosen for the first team, as was sophomore Jake Hop. Juniors Brad Brusewitz and Casey Turnipseed were placed on the All-MBC second team.
Somerset had its offensive leaders named to the All-MBC first team. Juniors Jon Bucklew and Gavin Meader were both selected for the first team. Bucklew was also named the Middle Border Conference Most Valuable Player. Spartan juniors Aaron Joppru and Jake Scott were named to the All-MBC second team and senior Nate Olin was an honorable mention selection.
New Richmond was led by its dynamic senior tandem of Miller and Taubman. Miller ranked in the top 10 in the state in scoring this season with 37 goals and 84 points. His 37 goals set a Tiger team record and he holds the Tigers' career scoring record.
"He's the best all-around player we've ever had when you put all the facets together," said Pete Melloy, who has coached the Tiger program throughout its varsity existence. "He has the most soccer intelligence we've ever had. He's mature beyond his years."
Taubman was a four-year starter, giving the Tigers a needed toughness and poise on defense.
"He always gave 110 percent effort. He was a field general out there," Melloy said. "He was definitely a physical presence for us."
Hop, Brusewitz and Turnipseed all played primarily on defense, but the coaches weren't afraid to use them anywhere on the field.
Hop has been a starter through his first two years and he should be among the players who command the defense in the next two seasons.
"Jack is a natural born leader," Melloy said. "He works tremendously hard. He's got a lot of grit in him. He's pretty well respected by his teammates."
Brusewitz and Turnipseed were usually the Tigers' outside men on defense, where they covered a great deal of the field and made it difficult for opponents to get the ball to the center of the field.
"Brad's got great speed and he's tough on the ball. He's got the defensive mentality," Melloy said. "Casey's our utility player, he played everywhere. He's our team workhorse. He never lets up."
The Tigers also announced their team awards for the season. Miller was named the team's Most Valuable Player. Sam Giese received the Most Improved Player Award.
Somerset was led by the amazing performance of Bucklew this season. His 48 goals and 114 points were the top totals in the state this season. He's not just a scorer either. His 18 assists were the top figure in the conference this season. His season ranks as the top offensive season in conference history.
Somerset coach Bill Roll said that Bucklew's success is the result of his work ethic.
"He spends so much time making himself better. He plays at a whole nother speed above everyone else. He knows what he's going to do with the ball before he gets it," Roll said.
With all the attention Bucklew has drawn, Meader flies under the radar. He scored 22 goals this season and finished among the top 30 scorers in the state.
"He'd be the leading scorer on any team below us in the standings," Roll said. "Gavin's got deceptive speed and he can score with either foot."
While the offense, led by Bucklew and Meader, drew most of the acclaim, the biggest area of improvement for the Spartans this season came at the defensive end of the field. After giving up 115 goals a year ago, the Spartans shaved that total down to 43 goals this season. That success is why Joppru, Scott and Olin were recognized.
Joppru, in his second year of playing soccer, won the goalkeeper job in the pre-season. His quick reflexes and aggressive style made him a natural for the job.
"He improved tremendously, he's very athletic," Roll said. "Mentally he took a big step and skill-wise he took a big step."
As one of the Spartans' outside defenders, Scott frustrated opponents by shutting down forwards who tried to work the ball past him.
"Jake was our most consistent defender," Roll said. "In some games he completely shut down team's right-side attacks."
Olin was the leader of the Spartan defense as one of the two senior starters on the team. Roll said Olin worked hard to get the defense to play as a unit, working together so there weren't any open spaces that opponents could exploit.
Somerset's team awards have been announced. They are:
Most Valuable: Jon Bucklew
Most Improved: Jesse Brown
Best Newcomer: Logan Weiderin
Spartan Award: JT Karis