The Roarin' Wildcats
The mythological Phoenix lives in legend not for never falling, but for rising from the ashes. The Oshkosh West varsity soccer team, one which ended the 2015 campaign with a heartbreaking, 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hartford in the first round of the playoffs, are looking for a similar path to redemption with 6-1 FVA record. A vital step for the Oshkosh Wildcats came in the form of a 4-1 road victory over Hartford, one that helped ease some of the pain from last year’s playoff exit. For junior captain Noah Steinhilber, the game was more proactive than reactive.
“It was not about revenge, but rather proving to everyone that West has the ability to be a threat this year,” he said.
For the Wildcats, the goal this year is to make it past the first round of the playoffs and ultimately reach state. Head Coach Matt Callahan believes his team has what it takes to make it to state, and for them this means training hard.
“We need to continue to train hard and stay healthy, so we can get better,” said Callahan.
In order to advance to state, the Wildcats will need to beat many quality teams such as Neenah, Kimberly, and Oshkosh North. Neenah has been the Wildcats hardest opponent thus far and even though the result did not go there way, Coach Callahan still took some positives out of the last game.
“When we played Neenah last year it went very poorly, this year we played even with them and had more scoring chances,” he said.
The Wildcats are still in the rebuilding process after several key senior players graduated last season, forcing many young players to step up. Callahan believes that a young team could be an asset for them.
“Our largest weakness is that we are still a young team, but moving forward that will turn into another strength,” Callahan said.
For the defensive unit, junior Daniel Seekings and sophomore Jonathan Lopez have stepped up to provide a good back line for the Wildcats. In the midfield and attacking department, sophomore Zach Janotha has given the Wildcat offense a spark. Coach Callahan believes that a lot of practice has been an influential key to their success.
“I attribute the success of the players to what they do in the offseason,” said Callahan. “This year we definitely needed some of our guys to step up on the back line.”
The answer this year to keeping the defense in form, is varsity captain Will Schmidt. He is very confident in saying that the Wildcats will continue their success this year.
“From the games we’ve played we’ve had resilience, we play the full game from start to finish without slacking, even if we’re losing,” Schmidt said.
Overall, the Wildcats feel that they have the tools necessary to make a deep run in the playoffs, as well as winning the FVA. They’re off to a hot start with their current record, looking to continue the flame of energy going.
“We have a great group of players this year,” Callahan said, “and one of our biggest strengths is the overall skill level of the players.”