by Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
They have only nine players and coaches have to pitch in during practice, but that does not dampen the spirit of the Park Center CI-adapted soccer team. The Pirates return most of their players from last season’s squad that went undefeated in conference play and they hope to repeat as conference champions this season.
The team is led by senior co-captains Tasha Feigh and Kevin Hofer. Feigh is a four-time all-conference defensive player. Hofer will move from wing to center and anchor the Pirate offense this year.
“Tasha really sets the stage for our offense to score,” Park Center coach Kelli Waalk-Gilbertson said. “She is also closing in on the team’s career assist record. Tasha needs a seven assists to break the team record and will no doubt break the record early in the season. Kevin joined the team last year. He scored 42 goals and added 33 assists. Kevin was also an all-conference player and was selected to the all-tournament team at state.”
Junior goalie Megan Thompson returns for her fourth season overall and her second in net.
“You don’t go undefeated without an incredible goalie and Megan has been just that,” Waalk-Gilbertson said. “Her skills continue to improve every game. Time and time again Megan comes-up with amazing saves.”
Other returning players include junior wing Aaron Clark, defensive specialist Alex Kreidler and freshman Jason Robins. All three are expected to see significant playing time this year. Freshman Cole Brambilla joined the team during the softball season and has worked his way into the starting line-up for soccer as well. Tyler Jensen and Paige Faber will also see their share of playing time.
Due to their low numbers the Pirates have to scrimmage players against coaches.
“Alumni coaches Andy Brown and Sammy Veopradith do a fabulous job of challenging our top players during practice,” Waalk-Gilbertson said. “We go hard for 10-minutes, take a water break, go hard for another 10, and take another break. This has helped build-up our players’ endurance and it paid big dividends in the North Suburban game.”
The hard practices certainly prepared the Pirates well as they opened their 2103 season at home with a win against top-ranked North Suburban last week. Feigh stole the ball from the Cougars center and passed to Clark, who passed to an open Hofer for a goal just 66 seconds in. Less than three minutes later, Clark scored the Pirates’ second goal on a pass from Hofer. The Pirates were ahead 7-5 at half and cruised to a 12-6 win.
“The score does not tell how close the game truly was,” Waalk-Gilbertson said. “The game was fast paced and physical as you would expect any contest between top teams to be. Thompson made numerous saves in the second half to hold the Cougars to just one goal on 23 shots.”
Hofer led the Pirates in scoring with nine goals and two assists. Clark had two goals and three assists. Feigh converted on an indirect kick to score a goal. She also added three assists. Faber and Brambilla also had assists.
The Pirates followed that win with victories over Mounds View (11-2) and Stillwater (10-4) to improve to 3-0.
Waalk-Wilkerson likes what I she has seen so far and is confident the Pirates will to do well this season.