By Craig Marx, Editor
The boys were winless last season as the Antigo soccer programs, across the board, continue to move forward as developing programs. Finishing 0-17 overall, the Robins’ boys soccer team has taken steps to help equalize the playing field for this season.
“We’ve scheduled some non-conference games this year that we think are against teams near our talent level,” head coach Ben Wilhelm said while supervising a preseason practice. “It’s hard to set team goals for the year when you are looking for four or five wins a season, but the scheduling I believe will definitely help us.”
The chance for more involvement might also help the program find greater success. For the 2015 season, Antigo was able to field its first junior varsity team in nearly ten years. Whereas all Great Northern Conference teams have JV squads, the opportunity to see all their players hit the pitch, regardless of age and experience, is a benefit to JV coach Mike Barske and Wilhlem.
“Everyone has a chance to play [with a JV and varsity team]. It’s great for our program’s development,” Wilhelm added.
In a past interview, Wilhelm foreshadowed the importance of developing his young JV squad, saying “This group will be the future of Antigo soccer for the next few years as they move up to varsity, and we have a lot to look forward to. Adding a JV program back after a ten-year absence has been a great decision and serves these younger players well and will serve the future of our program well too.”
The program lost six seniors from last season, including the likes of senior captain Gavin Bunnell and goalkeeper Jack McKenna. Antigo nominally fields 30 players as of the first captains’ practice of the 2016 season, though Coach Wilhelm feels that by the time the regular season begins his numbers will be somewhere near 26 to 28 players – roughly the same as 2015.
The 2016 goalie position belongs to either junior Ben Lewandowski or senior Jackson Smits, according to the coaching staff.
Wilhelm made note of the team’s junior classmen, a group of young men that the coaches feel are on the rise. The largest segment of players on the team, Antigo soccer’s junior class features 12 players that have all played together through the program to this point.
Keynote matchups for this upcoming season include hosting new opponent Pacelli to kickoff the regular season on Aug. 28 (4:30 p.m.), Parents’ Night against Medford on Sept. 28 (5 p.m.), and Senior Night against Phelps on Oct. 11 (5 p.m.).
2016 AHS Boys Soccer Schedule
- Mon. Aug. 22 – vs. Merrill (scrimmage) – 4 p.m.
- Tue. Aug. 23 – vs. Pacelli – 4:30 p.m.
- Sat. Aug. 27 – Gresham Tournament – 9 a.m.
- Mon. Aug. 29 – at Merrill – 5 p.m.
- Tue. Aug. 30 – vs. Mosinee – 5 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 1 – vs. Northland Pines – 5 p.m.
- Tue. Sep. 6 – at Clintonville – 4 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 8 – vs. Medford – 5 p.m.
- Mon. Sep. 12 – at Peshtigo – 4:30 p.m.
- Tue. Sep. 13 – at Lakeland – 7 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 15 – vs. Rhinelander – 4:30 p.m.
- Fri. Sep. 16 – vs. Wausau Newman – 4:30 p.m.
- Sat. Sep. 17 – Antigo Home Tournament – 10 a.m.
- Tue. Sep. 20 – vs. Amherst – 4:30 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 22 – at Mosinee – 4:30 p.m.
- Mon. Sep. 26 – at Amherst – 5 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 29 – at Northland Pines – 4:30 p.m.
- Tue. Oct. 4 – at Medford – 4:30 p.m.
- Thur. Oct. 6 – vs. Lakeland – 4:30 p.m.
- Sat. Oct. 8 – at Marshfield – 9 a.m.
- Tue. Oct. 11 – vs. Phelps – 5 p.m.
- Thur. Oct. 13 – at Rhinelander – 4:30 p.m.