Bennett from the Bleachers: Soccer leads Fall Sports pack at WGHS

Bennett Durando
Sports Columnist

Bennett_Column Black & WhiteIn a season more diverse than any other in total high school athletic opportunities, men’s soccer has thus far trumped the nine other WGHS sports teams in performance, including a football team that ranks second in Missouri Class Five.

The soccer team is 14-5-1 and is ranked sixth in stltoday’s large schools area rankings. Its impressive resume includes a second place finish in the CYC Tournament, highlighted by its stunning victory over CBC in the tournament’s semifinal.

Trailing 1-0 early, junior Mick Hanrahan led the comeback, recording the assist for junior Antoine Givens’ equalizing goal. The game ran late, but Hanrahan helped end the nail biter in double overtime with another assist, this one a cross to junior Trey Paloucek for the dramatic game-winning goal.

“The big challenge in high school soccer is to break into the traditional group of elites,” said Varsity head coach Tim Cashel. “In the last few years now, we’ve beaten Chaminade, DeSmet, Rockhurst, CBC…”

The Statesmen lost a hard-played championship match to SLUH, 2-0, but the semifinal triumph has proven to be season defining for a team very similar to last year’s. The team includes seven returning seniors; they were a successful class as juniors last year, but in a tough District title game versus Kirkwood, they weren’t quite matured or experienced enough to take down the Pioneers, falling 3-0.

“I’m very confident we can go deep into the playoffs this year,” said Cashel. “Given the schedule we’ve played, and the success we’ve had with it, I like the way we’ve performed.”

That this is a team led by returning seniors (and even more juniors) makes its success all the more important.

“This is the culmination of a lot of work and preparation for our seniors,” remarked Cashel. “I find the experience at WGHS to be the best experience I’ve ever had as a soccer person, and I hope (the seniors) feel that way too.”

The Statesmen have a promising group of players coming behind the Class of 2015 as well. After the graduation of the current seniors, there will be an even larger number of seniors next year (the current juniors). They are followed with very strong sophomore and freshman classes.

“There’s going to be enough talent in this building all the time, so we’re going to be able to play competitively year after year,” said Cashel. “It may be a group of all seniors, and at times it could be even be freshmen or sophomores, but whatever it is, we always want to be at that higher level.” The Statesmen C-Team has experienced its two winningest seasons over the past two years.

For now Varsity looks to the District playoffs eyeing a State championship in 2014. Why not? There are seven seniors and team leaders who have a sense of urgency now. It’s their last chance to make a statement and etch their names in Statesmen sports history. With wins like the one at Soccer Park over CBC, it seems like this team could be something special.

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