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Leading with experience

Last year, the Wolfpack boys soccer team ended the season one game over 500. With a nearly all-senior lineup this fall, team leaders are hoping all that experience will add up to a winning season.

Anthony Williams, who graduated, was the go-to player last year when Park needed a score.

"One of our young players will have to step up," said longtime Park Coach Charlie Whitbred, who will retire at the end of the school year.

"We won't have a lot of scoring depth so we need to make the most of it," he said.

Of 16 seniors, 11 played quite a bit last year," said Whitbred. "A veteran team is coming back."

Co-captain Rick Doornink returns as sweep in the middle and Josh Westlund will be at mid-field.

All-conference honorable mentions Jordan Halley, Ed Weber and Sam Bangora are back.

"We'll have some experience. That will help us," Whitbred said.

"Most of the juniors weren't ready last year," Doornink said. "It will be easier this year because they know what it's like."

Doornink said many of the seniors played on a traveling team. "I'm hoping we win a bid to state. We really want to get there."

Co-captain Jordan Hawley said this year's squad is aggressive and has great speed. "We have good ball-handling skills," he said. "I think we're going to state."

Doornink, Hawley and Westlund don't plan on taking a lot of time to set up for scoring goals. That will leave the opposition with too much time to set up their defense. The Wolfpack will not be waiting for the goalie's sightlines to be blocked by the defense.

"Just shoot," Doornink said. "If we could do that, and score goals, we'd be tough."

Whitbred said he hopes they will learn to talk to each other when setting up a play.

The plan for this season is to hold opposing teams to one goal by pouring on the defense and keeping up the pressure in front of the Wolfpack net.

"If they can't score, they can't win," Hawley said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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