By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville Knights soccer boys come into the 2013 season with high expectations after winning the Mississippi 8 conference crown for a second straight season.
“Hopefully we can three-peat,” Head Coach Darek Dewey said.
However, Dewey has an unenviable task ahead of him; restructuring his offense.
“We graduated a lot of our goal scoring, so that’s something we have to work on,” he said. Most of it left with Justin McLain, who tallied 20 goals in his senior campaign. Dewey hopes that his collection of players can step up and make up for those goals.
He has help, as the team returns six starters from the 2012 season.
Among key players are a pair of Sams; Sam Voss, a senior forward Dewey hopes can flourish as a scorer, and Sam Guillou (GAA of 1.3), a senior goalkeeper Dewey hopes can stop the opponent from flourishing on offense. Other key components include team captains Cory Kackman and Garrett Adkins, a pair of midfielders.
Rounding off the key players are Wesely Maschke, a junior defenseman and Bryant Malley, an All-Conference senior midfielder expected to bolster scoring for the Knights. Dewey named the pair team captains along with Guillou for the 2013 season.
Also helping the Knights is a crop of new players.
“We have a good mix of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Dewey said. These new players coming in know the expectations around the territory. St. Michael-Albertville features a very strong youth soccer community, Dewey said. Players play the sport year round, which helps keep them strong, he added.
Losing good players to graduation or injury happens to every coach, but Dewey shrugged it off, saying it is not a big deal.
“We play a style that matches our players,” he said. The key is finding the most skilled players and grouping them together. Things like this have Dewey learning new things each year as a coach. The Knights play a high pressure defense, so Dewey finds kids in good enough shape to run such a scheme. He hopes the team can win low scoring games.
Despite an eight-game winning streak (with two ties) that helped secure the conference crown, such success did not follow the Knights into the section playoffs. The trip was short; the team turned in a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Anoka.
The 2013 season sees the Knights start with four of the first five games at home. Dewey cited fan support as a major advantage of playing at home. The lone road game in that group pits the Knights against the Monticello Magic. The Knights in turn welcome Osseo, Moorhead, Chanhassen, and Elk River/Zimmerman.
Perhaps the biggest game to come this season features a matchup against Buffalo.
“Buffalo is our biggest rival. We’ve had some epic games with them,” Dewey said. Last season, Buffalo beat the Knights 2-1 in an overtime game and the two teams tied later in the year. Two seasons ago the teams tied 3-3 in their matchup.
Guillou shares his coach’s goal. He wants to win the conference for the third year in a row. He knows the expectations and pressure brought upon him and his team.
“Mainly just pressure to be there for your team and win for them,” he said. Guillou also said that he wants to be a good role model to set an example for the other players.
Dewey urged the public to come out to some Knights home games this season.
“I think all of the games are going to be exciting,” he said. With the pressure defense Dewey employs, the team hopes to win a lot of one goal games. Fan support is a big deal and the Knights hope to rally behind it as the crowd rallies behind them.
Update: The Knights fell 8-1 to Osseo and 5-1 to Moorhead on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Sammy Voss and Cory Kackman provided the lone goals for STMA. The worst news came from Coach Dewey, who said that goalie Sam Guillou suffered a rib injury during the season opener. Backup Isaiah Leathers filled in against Moorhead.
The Knights look to regroup against Chanhassen on Thursday.