McDonell/Regis soccer coach Tim Jenneman is expecting 2012 to be an “up” year for his program.
Why wouldn’t he?
McDonell/Regis returns seven starters from last year’s squad, including all-conference performers Sam Nelson, Grant Pulver and Braxton Collins. Also back are Sam Vandehaar, Mike Kozuch, Andrew Klimek and Sam Kitzberger.
Nelson led the team in scoring last year, with 16 goals and 38 total points, and will move up to forward in 2012 after playing midfield last year. Pulver will be the center midfielder and will control the tempo of the game, while Collins will be a right midfielder.
Vandehaar will also be a midfielder, while Kozuch, Klimek and Kitzberger will anchor the defense.
For Jenneman, that experience alone should help his team compete at the top of the Mid-State Conference this season.
“This year, we’ll be a very nice team,” Jenneman said. “The biggest thing will be the experience. We’ll be more confident in our team play because of the experience from last year. Last year we lost six games by a goal and had three ties. I’m hoping that experience will bring them over the hump to win those games.”
McDonell/Regis does lose two seniors from last year’s squad — Steven Hehli and Collin Meinen — but it more than makes up for it with eight new freshmen joining the team this season. Sophomore Billy Wampler is also expected to step up this season.
Jenneman admits that winning conference won’t be easy, seeing as how his team will have to get by defending conference champ Wausau Newman. But he is confident in his team this year.
“With this group, I believe we can win conference,” he said. “I can feel it.”
While Jenneman is hopeful that McDonell/Regis can and will compete for the conference title in 2012, he’s also hoping that his team will be working to simply improve by the end of the season.
“I see us playing good soccer and working our way to better soccer by year’s end,” he said. “Our main goal is to win conference. From there, take playoffs one game at a time. ... The truth of this season will be how big our hearts are and how bad they want to win.”
McDonell/Regis opened its season on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Barron. It heads to Amery Thursday morning for a triangular.