2012 Fall Preview: Park boys soccer team hopes to build on success of strong two seasonsThe last two seasons were quite successful for the Park boys soccer team. But, after losing a pair of stars, it will take a team effort to replicate things this fall.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The last two seasons were quite successful for the Park boys soccer team. The Wolfpack was a combined 18-12-7 overall and 10-3-5 in the Suburban East Conference the past two years, finishing in the top four in the conference standings in 2010 and 2011. But, after losing a pair of stars, it will take a team effort to replicate things this fall.
After the 2010 season, Park said goodbye to All-State and All-Region player Ebenezer Mengistu — the Wolfpack’s leading scorer that year. Last year, Park graduated R.J. Alowonle — an All-State attacker who finished the year with a team-high 21 points on 17 goals and four assists. Overall, Park graduated 13 players last spring, including senior Zach Wilmes, who was second in scoring with 16 points on eight goals and eight assists and two-year starting goalie Nick Lenertz.
“Last year’s team graduated 10 starters so there are a lot of question marks,” Park head coach Jason Arnebeck said. “We expect to be very young, which means we will have a lot to learn in a very short period of time.”
Returning for Park, and expected to help lead the Wolfpack include senior defender Cody Newton — a two-time All-Conference player — and seniors Phil Bonacorda, a midfielder, and Jacob Garr, a defender, who were each varsity players as juniors. Also returning to the fold is senior goalkeeper Jordan Gollner, who played in two games as a junior and junior midfielder Matt Goecke, a varsity player as a sophomore.
“There are a lot of talented players entering the program and this year’s group of seniors is a very hard-working group,” Arnebeck said. “We hope they can pass that ethic on to our underclassmen.”
Last year, section juggernaut Eagan ended Park’s season for a third-straight year, defeating the Wolfpack 4-1 in the Section 3AA semifinals. Prior to falling to Eagan, which was ranked sixth in Class AA, Park upset Burnsville 4-1 in the opening round of playoffs.
The expected teams to beat in the conference and section in 2012 will come as a surprise to nobody. Perennial conference power Stillwater enters the year ranked fourth in Class AA. In addition, Mounds View and Woodbury are ranked 18th and 19th, respectively. East Ridge is also expected to be strong this season. In the section, Eagan begins the year ranked sixth in Class AA, Apple Valley is ninth and Eastview is 10th.
“The expectation is that we remain in the top third of the Suburban East Conference and advance as far as we can in the Section 3AA playoffs,” said Arnebeck.