2012 Preview: New Richmond boys soccer brings diverse set of skillsLook anywhere on the soccer field and the 2012 New Richmond boys soccer team returns a well-seasoned player.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Look anywhere on the soccer field and the 2012 New Richmond boys soccer team returns a well-seasoned player.
If the Tigers can find an answer to their need for a new goalkeeper, they could be in line to accomplish some big things this season.
The Tigers were MBC co-champions last season, when goalie Jake Miller was the only senior in the starting lineup. This year’s Tigers have an intriguing mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores making up their varsity roster.
The Tigers play with the poise of an experienced team. They move the ball with precision and with purpose.
“This team strikes the ball better than any team I’ve had in New Richmond,” said Pete Melloy, who has coached the Tigers since they became a varsity program.
Leading this year’s Tigers is senior Eric Miller, who plays on a premier level team during the summer. Miller is an accomplished scorer, but he’s at his best when he’s got the ball and is creating opportunities for his teammates.
“In my opinion, he’s the best player in the conference, he and (Jake) Mullendore from Amery,” Melloy said. “Eric’s skill level is superior to anyone who’s played here before.”
Miller and senior Aaron Daul lead the Tigers’ offensive charge. Daul has exceptional speed and a hunger to score goals.
“He’s got the scorer’s mentality,” Melloy said. “His skill level has improved dramatically. He’s got a rocket of a shot, left or right footed.”
The leader of the Tiger defense is senior Jake Taubman. He’s tall, athletic and he has the fearlessness to challenge any opponent making a run toward the Tiger goal.
“He’s our essential defender,” Melloy said. “He’s our presence in the middle of the field. His tenacity and his toughness are his biggest assets as far as being a defender.”
Andy Zietlow is another senior who will see plenty of action as an outside midfielder. He possesses good speed and he makes strong crossing passes to the center of the field.
There are six juniors on the Tiger roster and most of them have been on the varsity team since the first day of their freshman season. The group of juniors includes Brad Brusewitz, Shane Blackman, Sam Hagen, Casey Turnipseed, Mitch Giannini and Cole Olson.
Brusewitz was an all-conference defender last season, but he’s starting this year as the team’s goalkeeper. Melloy is bringing along several less experienced goalies in hopes they can take over the job, so Brusewitz can be moved back to the defense.
Blackman, Hagen, Turnipseed, Giannini and Olson have proven they can play in pretty much any position on the field. That’s one of the things Melloy likes best about the team: the versatility of each player. If opponents load their talent toward the offensive end, Melloy can shift some of his more experienced players to the defensive end. If a team tries to stack its defense, Melloy will load up the forward line.
There are six sophomores on the varsity and they’ve shown they can make an impact. Jack Hop, Joey Turnipseed, Charlie L’Allier, Luke Landaal, Sam Giese and Josh Giegle are already strong contributors and their roles will continue to grow as they mature.
Melloy said this is something of a transition year in the Middle Border Conference. New Richmond and Amery, last year’s co-champions, appear to be two of the favorites this season. Some of the teams that have traditionally been in the hunt for the conference title, like Osceola and Hayward, are much younger and less experienced this season. Melloy said another possible contender is Somerset, a young and improving team.