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Wolfpack have plan of attack

Senior captain Ethan Berube made the switch from defender to forward this season as Park attempts to increase its attacking presence. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)

Park has spent much of the last couple of season’s on the defensive half of the field.

“The last couple of years we’ve been stacking it in the back defensively, making sure we stay in matches,” Wolfpack head coach Jason Arnebeck said. “Just making sure we hold on and keeping the score down to a minimum.”

But that strategy will be no more, not this season. Park has the talent, and the experience, to get offensive.

“Now we feel like this year we can start pushing guys up into the offense, being more of an attacking team,” Arnebeck said.

That’s music to the ears of Park’s players.

“We have people that can score this year and want to score,” senior captain Ethan Berube said. “So we put in the work and it should be a lot of fun this year, because we have some attacking presence.”

Berube has been one of Park’s better defenders the past few seasons, but he’s moving up to forward this season to help the goal-scoring effort.

“He’s a really savvy player and shows a great propensity for putting the ball in the net,” Arnebeck said.

Berube has scored goals in the past, but that’s never been his primary objective on the pitch. This season, it is.

“I’m pretty excited to make things happen,” Berube said.

Berube has plenty of other scoring options playing alongside him, as well. Arnebeck highlighted Noah Ijomah, Jack Wagner, Peyton Boich, Brady Abrahamson and Alex Hajovy as some of Park’s primary scoring threats.

“[They] all have great offensive skill and if they get up into the attack and are aggressive,” Arenbeck said. “They can certainly finish and put a lot of balls in the back of the net, too.”

The Wolfpack have always been one of the younger squads throughout the Suburban East each of the last few seasons, but Park graduated just four players from last year’s club and this year’s roster features 10 seniors.

“So there’s not as much adjustment and we can focus a lot more on getting better as a team and we’re growing with each other, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Berube said.

But as is the case with every scheme, there are weaknesses. The Wolfpack have to be sure their attacking style doesn’t lead to defensive lapses.

“I think the most important thing is maybe the counterattacks,” senior captain Joey Boytendorp said. “We need to stay together as a team, because if we have less defenders and more attackers, we still need to make sure we can’t get scored on. So we need to have a high momentum and maybe a higher pace to make sure we score first and keep scoring and then make sure we don’t get scored on.”

Berube said since his sophomore year he’s felt every year was ‘the year,’ though the last two years it didn’t work out. This year he feels success is on the way.

“I think the guys know that they’re an older team,” Arnebeck said. “They know that we’re going to match up better with some of our section opponents from across the river -- the Apple Valleys, the Eagans that typically put out senior-heavy squads. So yeah, I think they really have some big goals in mind. They want to go far into the sections, they want to do well in the conference, and I think if they work hard enough, we should be able to achieve that.”

Park’s early results would suggest a successful campaign is on the horizon. After winning just five matches in 2013, the Wolfpack won its first two matches of the year, both on the road, over the weekend. Park beat Burnsville 2-0 Aug. 21 before beating Eagan 2-1 Saturday. The Wolfpack lost 3-0 to Eagan in 2013.

Park soccer may just be on the rise.