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New Richmond boys soccer unified in aiming for top

The New Richmond boys soccer team starts each season with its annual alumni game. Here Jordan Berget (left) of the alumni team battles Mitch Giannini for control of the ball.

There's a unique team makeup on the 2013 New Richmond boys soccer squad.

With boys from all four grades expected to contribute to the team, the Tigers have a unique mix of skills and experience levels.

"I think we have a good team chemistry," said Tiger coach Pete Melloy. "I've been very impressed with our team leadership."

The Tigers are coming off a second place finish in the Middle Border Conference. Both of their MBC losses last season came against Amery. Melloy said Amery is the team to beat again, along with Somerset.

"I think one of us three teams will win the conference," he said. "I'd say Amery is the favorite because they won last year. We have a chance to win it if we play up to our potential."

Depth is one of the main strengths on this year's Tiger team. Melloy said he is completely comfortable using the top 15 players on his roster, giving him the flexibility to use different lineups based on the opposition's strengths.

Senior Casey Turnipseed and junior Luke Landaal will see the majority of the playing time at the forward positions. Landaal ranked third on the Tigers last year with 10 goals scored.

"Casey is more of a possession player. Luke stretches the field for us," Melloy said.

Senior Shane Blackman and sophomore Nathan Feiner draw the starting roles as the center midfielders. Blackman is versatile, having shown he can play almost any position. Feiner is a skilled young player.

Josh Geigle will be the outside midfielder on the right side. The left side position will be shared by senior Mitch Giannini and freshman Adam Schoepke. Charlie L'Allier will also see time in the midfield.

The Tigers' defensive corps is loaded with experienced players. Brad Brusewitz is scheduled to handle the sweeper position, with Sam Hagen in the stopper role. Among the players who could fill the starting roles as the outside defenders are Sam Giese, Jack Hop, Zach Landt and Croix Hare. Several of the players on the defense like Hop and Giese could be used in a number of different roles on the team.

"I feel real confident in our back four," Melloy said.

Younger players who will gradually work into the Tiger lineup this season include Carter Hagen, Michael Skoyen, Russell Hop and Adam Dilley.

Junior Rocco Ficociello is the only goalkeeper on the varsity roster, showing the coaches' confidence in him.

"Rocco's still learning," Melloy said. "He's had some great moments."

One of the biggest changes involving the Tigers' season is the shift by the WIAA from three to four divisions for the post-season. The Tigers have been one of the smallest Division 1 teams in this section every year. Now they'll get the chance to compete in Division 2.

"We've won a regional before, now we want to get to a sectional final," Melloy said. "That's the next step. We want to progress, to set new benchmarks."

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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