Boys soccer team has high hopes

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Derek Waleffe (left) and Drake Vandermause will lead Middleton’s boys soccer team this fall./File photo

Middleton’s boys soccer program had a 2016 season to remember.

The Cardinals reached the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the first time since 2011. Middleton knocked off Big Eight Conference co-champs Madison East and Sun Prairie on its way to state.

And the Cardinals finished the year with an impressive 16-3-2 record.

Now comes the hard part.

Sustaining what was achieved.

“This year we need to prove our staying power as a soccer program,” Middleton coach Ben Kollasch said. “Our effort will need to be team driven and not based on any one player's individual talent.

“Our tactics have to change to a more aggressive style to produce the same results. We have a tactical plan to get back to the (state) tourney given this year's set of players. We need all 11 players executing that plan to make it work.”

Middleton’s first order of business is a big one: replace first-team all-state forward and current University of Wisconsin player Bradan Allen.

Allen led the Cardinals in goals (31) and points (72) last season and tied for second in assists (10). Allen also finished second in school history in career goals and second in career points.

“Bradan Allen was one of the best players to come through Middleton in a decade, or more,” Kollasch said. “You can't just fill in for a player like that.”

It’s a good thing for Kollasch and the Cardinals that the cupboard is far from bare.

Senior midfielder Derek Waleffe was a second-team all-state performer and a first-team all-Big Eight selection in 2016. Waleffe led the Cardinals in assists (14), was second in goals (22) and second in total points (58).

Senior midfielder Drake Vandermause, a second-team all-conference selection, also returns. Last season, Vandermause scored 15 goals, added 13 assists and finished with 43 points.

“Somehow this remarkable season was overlooked for serious conference honors and all-state honors,” Kollasch said of Vandermause. “He is the second half of the dynamic duo of Waleffe and Vandermause. They are both great players individually, but their chemistry multiplies and adds to their effectiveness.

“Both are exceptional players who work really well together and are pieces we have built our team and tactics around for this year. They are both midfielders, so that changes our approach drastically.

“Where Bradan was allowed to roam free to find spaces in attack, we have to do more to actively create spaces to attack in for more people. Derek and Drake are both scorers, but natural playmakers, too, so look for big assist numbers for them and for goals to be spread around more.”

Senior Noah Pollard is the sole returning starter on defense.

Senior midfielder Isaiah Williams is a disruptive force, while junior midfielder Greg Pauly played nearly every minute last year as an anchor to the midfield.

“Greg is a great swing man and can deliver a precise serve, which made him one our top assist producers with 10,” Kollasch said.

Sophomore Cian Carlson jumps in as a starting defender, while junior Ben Scher will share time in goal with senior Mitch Giroux.

Senior defender Brendan Steele, junior midfielders Simon Sisk and Bryce Schuster, and junior forwards Chris George and Andrew Lund will all take on greater roles in their second year on varsity.

“This team will be less driven by individual personality than by collective effort,” Kollasch said. “We have top quality players all around and a few blue chip players. Our less experienced defensive line will not be a weakness, because we have solid players ready to fill in. We just won’t have the crushing defense that we had last year with three returning starters.

“Our midfield should be the strength of our team. Our tactical plan is to make the midfield a force both defensively and offensively.”

The Big Eight Conference appears as strong as ever, with Madison Memorial, Madison West, Sun Prairie and Beloit Memorial expected to contend.

Middleton believes it has what it takes to win a conference title, and eventually make a return trip to state.

“I don’t think we will have any easy conference games,” Kollasch said. “But our biggest stumbling block might be ourselves and our own consistency.”

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