Menomonee Falls - Despite large graduation losses, the Menomonee Falls boys soccer team has picked up where it left off in 2011, completing a hectic and harried first week of the 2012 campaign with a 4-1-1 mark.
The Indians won the Fond du Lac Invitational on Aug. 14 and 15, and finished second in the Muskego Invite on Aug. 17 and 18, incurring a short-handed, 5-0, loss to the host Warriors in the final. They opened the 2012 Greater Metro Conference season against Brookfield East on Tuesday.
Falls ended its spectacular 2011 campaign with a frustrating, 2-0, WIAA sectional final loss to those same Spartans. It marked the third time in the last six years the Indians have fallen in the sectional final (one win short of state) and it concluded a record-setting year for Falls as it finished with a 20-4-2 mark, which tied the school record for wins in a season.
Many talented players off that team are now gone. The key returnees include senior co-captains Owen Thompson (defender) and Jake Brust (midfielder) and junior co-captain Nick Gonzales (forward). Senior Brendan Paule was the backup keeper last season but is also a co-captain while other returnees include junior midfielder/defender Tommy Wolf and junior midfielder Connor Young.
"I'm really happy with where we're at right now," veteran Falls coach Scott Stein said. "We have a lot of new faces, so we thought getting them some quality minutes this week would help us (move forward)."
The team still has a fair number of seniors on the roster (nine) but most of them were junior varsity players a year ago, Stein said, so their development will be a major key to the Indians' long-term success.
"We were ranked number seven (in the state) in the preseason polls," he said, "but that was mostly due to last season. I think the captains have done a really good job of bringing the team together so far. We've had a lot of good bonding exercises.
"As far as technical things go, I think last year's team was a little more talented on top but that this year's group will be deeper, and I think we'll play a little faster than we did last year, not quite as technical."
In the Fondy Tournament, the Indians beat Racine Park (2-0), the host Cardinals (4-0) and Elkhorn (1-0) for the crown while at Muskego, they defeated Green Bay Preble (1-1, 4-2 on the shootout) and Appleton North (2-0) before falling to the Warriors.
"We were a little nicked up because of the long week and when we fell behind, we just decided to sub a bit (against Muskego)," Stein said. "It's essentially a new team, so we're going to take it one day at a time."
Falls isS at Kenosha Bradford for a 7 p.m. game Thursday.
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