Sporting WCA

Soccer Districts Preview

The Westminster varsity soccer team looks to continue their recent success in the playoffs over the last several years and build off of a regular season which saw them nearly double their win total from last year; they prepare to host Parkway Central on Tuesday, October 25 in the first round of district play.

The Cats finished their regular season with a respectable record of 11-11-1, earning them the number three seed in their district, behind Parkway West and Parkway Central, and ahead of Parkway North. After appearing in two consecutive district finals over the last two years (winning the first one, 1-0, and dropping the last one, 0-1, both to Parkway West) the Wildcats are just as determined to reach the finals again this year and believe they have the experience and ability they need to win their district.

“We benefited from playing a tough schedule against some extremely tough opponents and I think that experience will be very valuable in helping us prepare for districts and facing some more tough teams. But we definitely have all the utilities and talent we need to win districts.” said senior defensive back, Alex Lawrence.

The Wildcats did indeed play a very tedious schedule facing teams such as Ladue (ranked fourth in stlhighschoolsports large-school rankings), Rockwood Summit (third in large-schools), Hazelwood West (eight in large-schools), Lutheran South (tenth in small-schools), Priory (eighth in small-schools), John Burroughs (fifth in small-schools), and MICDS (fourth in small-schools). The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Westminster as standing in their way is a Parkway Central team that has been fire over the last couple of weeks, winning seven of their past eight games, including a five game win streak heading into the match on Tuesday.

The Colts (15-6-2) played a schedule very similar to the Wildcats and enjoyed several big wins in the last couple weeks of the season, but lost a game during the regular season that is sure to have left a chip on their shoulder going into Tuesday’s game. That was a game in which senior David Kerckhoff scored for the Wildcats with just 25 seconds left in regulation to help Westminster claw from behind to win, 3-2.

“After a hard fought game that we won earlier in the year, we know they [Parkway Central] are going to come out hungry for revenge and want to win this game that much more. We plan on coming out just as hard and with just as much energy,” said Jack Bauer, senior forward for the Wildcats.

Bauer’s teammate and goaltender, Brandon Beat, agreed, saying, “They’re going to come out firing, especially after they lost to us in the regular season, and we just have to be ready. We have to match their intensity and make sure our defense is ready to go to slow down their offense right from the start.”

Slowing down the Parkway Central offense is no easy task for any team. The Colts averaged 3.6 goals per game during the regular season, led by forwards Luke Trail (19-4-42), Cameron Baird (9-14-32), and Imad Chatouane (8-11-27). The high-powered offense has scored 22 goals over the past five games and were never shut out during the regular season.

But if any team were to slow them down, it would be the Wildcats.

Westminster posted six shutouts throughout the year, including four straight to start the season, and have held their opponents to 1.8 goals per game. The defense is led by seniors, Connor Dolan and Will Wetzel in the back line and star goalkeeper, Brandon Beat, who posted a 0.792 save % during the year. The Wildcat defense has stayed consistent throughout the regular season despite losing center back and co-captain, Teddy Bacon, to an MCL sprain halfway through the year.

“All year our defense has stepped up and helped us win big games,” said Jimmy Obertop, sophomore midfielder. “When Teddy went down, no one panicked, but they just kept playing the way they have the whole year.”

Westminster’s offense, which averages 2.3 goals per game, also took a blow when the team’s leading scorer, Frankie Sacco (12-8-32), suffered a severe high ankle sprain in the Wildcat’s final regular season game and was determined out for the first district game. With Sacco out of the roster, senior, Jack Bauer (8-7-23), and junior, Erik Bergman (6-2-14) will look to pick up the offensive slack for the Wildcats.

“Obviously our spirits are kind of down right now with a few of our best players out due to injury,” admitted Bauer, “but we are bringing up some players from JV to help out and are hoping for some seniors [to] step up like they have all year long and lead us to a big victory!”

Ultimately the game will come down to the Wildcat’s ability or inability to slow down the high-powered Colt’s offense and whether or not their offense will be able to produce without their leading scorer.