Here is a capsule look at area boys soccer programs this spring:
Coach — Mirek Laskowski (14th season)
2019 record — 12-6
Returning veterans — Bryce Boekholder (Sr.); Eli Dunkel (Sr.); Logan Burchard (Jr.); Ryan Burchard (Jr.); Conner Grover (Jr.); Mitchell Naber (Jr.); Lane Kramer (Jr.)
Promising newcomers — Hunter Douglas, Trent Arens
Outlook — Perhaps no area program has been more consistent over the last decade than the Trailblazers, who have qualified for seven state tournaments since 2010. But getting back to Des Moines will take on greater urgency this year. The Trailblazers have lost in the substate final each of the past two contested seasons, and haven’t been to state since 2017. Laskowski is 140-14-2 in his 14 seasons, including back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons in 2015-16. Logan Burchard is the top returning scorer after notching six goals and four assists in 2019. Ryan Burchard and Kramer also scored three goals. Boekholder had two goals and four assists.
Coach — Ben Kober
2019 record — 2-14
Returning veterans — Ethan Grau (Sr., F/M); Tai Streets (Jr., D/M); Tyson Wilhelm (Jr., M/D); Isaac Koppang (Jr., F/M); Sean Swanson (Jr., D/M); Jaycob Thompson (Sr., M/F); Cael Koob (Jr., D); Hunter Knutsen (Jr., D/M); Gabe Gardner (Sr., F/G); Caiden Steffen (Jr., M/D); Colin Tracy (Sr., M/D)
Promising newcomers — Cameron Tracy (Fr.); Bradley Lafrenz (Soph.); Elijah Zimmerman (Fr.); Aiden Claus (Soph.); Samuel Knotts (Fr.)
Outlook — The Cardinals return a large group of players, including 63% of their scoring from 2019. Koppang and Grau led the team in both goals (2) and assists (2), and Thompson had another goal and an assist two years ago. Caiden Steffen has the team’s only other returning point with one assist. The roster includes just 16 players, so depth could be an issue.
Coach — Matt Knutson (3rd season)
2019 record — 0-16
Returning starters — Staveley Maury (Sr.); Kole Wright (Jr.); Damian Hernandez (Jr.); Kyle Barrett (Jr.)
Promising newcomers — Ethan Grawe (Fr.); Zach Kramer (Fr.); Grant Kramer (Fr.); Alex Steffen (Fr.); Brayden Maury (Fr.)
Outlook — It was a tough season last time out for the Hawks, who were outscored, 99-4, in 2019. It’s a fresh start now, though, with a strong class of underclassmen eager to rewrite the soccer history for West Delaware, which has won more than two matches in a season just once since 2013. The Hawks will rely on their returning players to help solidify the foundation, then hope the younger players can help lead the program to the next level.
RIVER VALLEY CONFERENCE
Coach — Tim Nieman (1st season)
2019 record — First season
Returning veterans — Dane Bertling (Sr.); Trever Freiburger (Jr.); Willy Lynch (Jr.)
Promising newcomers — Ben Boffeli (Soph.); Cooper Rausch (Sr.); Giovanni Vego (Fr.); Isaac Nava (Jr.); Juan Alvarado (Fr.); Justin Roling (Jr.); Luke Ludwig (Soph.); Max Nadeau (Fr.); Sean Pry (Soph.); Ty Kelchen (Soph.); Tyson Hill (Soph.); Waylen Lynch (Fr.); Wes Adams (Fr.)
Outlook — The Cougars are opening their first season as a program, but have more experience than most first-year programs after Bertling, Frieburger and Willy Lynch played with Western Dubuque as part of a co-operative agreement. Now they get to help take charge of building a new program from scratch. Lynch saw limited action in goal for WD in 2019, making 20 saves in 155 minutes.
Coach — Gary Penniston (3rd season)
2019 record — 12-7
Returning starters — Tyrelle Kloser (Sr., F); Julian Nam (Sr., F); Carson Michels (Sr., M); Nolan Tracy (Jr., M); Jacob Bakey (Sr., G)
Promising newcomers — Joseph Hager (Jr.); Ethan DeSotel (Soph.); Trevor Klein (Soph.); Tristan Pfiffner (Sr.); Aden Schmidt (Soph.); Evan Scott (Soph.)
Outlook — The Mohawks had perhaps their best season ever in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic temporarily halted their momentum. Marquette has a talented group of forwards and midfielders back to make another run. Kloser is the Mohawks’ top returning scorer after tallying 11 goals and three assists in 2019. Nam had a goal and an assist. Bakey played sparingly in goal, making four saves and allowed one goal in 87 minutes.
UPPER IOWA CONFERENCE
Coach — Dan Pierce (1st season)
2019 record — First season
Promising newcomers — Caden Palmer (Jr., F); Daniel Tabora-Lara (Soph., M); Mara Pierce (Jr., D); William Spielbauer (Jr., G)
Outlook — The Eagles are set to make their first foray into high school soccer. There will be plenty of unknowns, but the enthusiasm has been evident to first-year head coach Dan Pierce, who has long been involved in the Guttenberg soccer scene. Clayton Ridge performed well in its debut despite dropping a 3-2 decision to a perennially strong Postville program. The Eagles have 36 players on their roster, but will be fielding a co-ed roster this year. There are close to a dozen girls on the team and two started in the season opener. Of the 36 players, only four are seniors and 22 are sophomores or younger.