Amid a dynasty, the expectations for the Saint Paul’s soccer team are “state championship or bust.” Thus, it is no secret that last year’s soccer season ended in disappointment. An unprecedented 11-year streak of state championship appearances was shattered last year by a heartbreaking postseason loss to the underdog Dutchtown Griffins.
This year’s Soccer Wolves seek to redeem themselves following a rare disheartening end to last season.
As fans stood despondent in the bleachers last year after watching the team’s shocking overtime exit, many had a quiet confidence next year would be a revenge tour to remember. Heading into the season, the Wolves hold these same expectations. Moreover, the stars are lining up to meet them; nearly all of the starters from last year are returning, the team is healthy, and they are ready to run through a brick wall for Head Coach Sean Moser.
Coach Moser shared clear opinions on what he believes are the team’s strengths and weaknesses this year. Moser first highlighted the strengths: “There is good senior leadership and a renewed focus because of the way we went out last year. They had some great summer workouts with two or three [members] of the coaching staff.”
However, there are more components to a state championship-winning season than revenge and continuity.
Moser also discussed the team’s weaknesses: “They think they are better than they are right now. Some of the quality at the tryouts hasn’t been good. As we cut out some of the weaker players and establish a varsity team that practices together, the practices will get better.”
The Wolves have their work cut out for them this season because they play their usual demanding schedule, which consists of many of the best teams in the state. However, the team is ready to take their opponents head-on.
While there is a buzz surrounding the early season rematch versus the Griffins, Wolves’ team captain Brennan LeBlanc looks further than that game. When asked about his most anticipated matchup, Leblanc simply responded, “All of them.”
On there other hand, Coach Moser was more focused on beating the teams that challenged Saint Paul’s last season. “Every game that we lost or tied that we should have won, and there were seven of those, we are taking as a personal challenge.”
Of course, every varsity player will make an impact this year. However, a few players in particular are expected to be great leaders for the team. Senior striker Kristian Ernst, who led the team in goals per game last year, looks to lead in the same way this year. In addition, junior goalkeeper Connor Allen will anchor down the scrappy Wolves defense, which did not give up a single goal to a district opponent last year. Senior captains Christian Waguespack, Lucas Piazza, Max Pellegrini, and Brennan LeBlanc are also ready to lead the rest of the team and their respective position groups.
With these individuals, the ensemble of support players, and the expert coaching of Coach Moser, the hopes are sky-high for the Soccer Wolves 2022-23 season. The expectations remain lofty: it’s “state championship or bust.”