Injury bug slows the start for Falcon soccer veterans
The offseason months, a time in which the team prepares for a new season, is meant for improvement in both strength and skill for the men's squad. Unfortunately, the summer months have not been kind to several key Concordia soccer players.
Senior forward Ryan Folgate has been slow to recover from shoulder surgery. Starting midfielders Carl Haynes and Victor Mendoza both sustained knee injuries along with highly touted incoming midfielder Brandyn Banaszynski (Waukesha North HS, WI). Late summer illness and injury to returning midfielder Zach Lemler and captain Bryan Samuel only add to Coach Saleska's concerns about the development of this year's team. Saleska states that he's never seen anything quite like this rash of preseason setbacks to such key performers. He believes that the early season matches will really be challenging but remains positive about the squad's potential.
Much of Coach Saleska's optimism is based on the large and talented incoming class of freshmen who will be counted on to perform up to expectations. According to Saleska, "There are several freshmen in this year's recruiting class who have to potential to become impact players. I hope they understand their importance to the team and come to training camp in the best shape of their lives." Hopefully, this gifted crop of freshmen will complement a young but skillful returning group to help generate another successful soccer season.
One of the more intriguing questions that needs to be answered early in training camp is who will replace last year's Academic All American goal keeper, Tom Anderson. Vying for the starting position will be returning juniors Dan Boklewski who is coming off of rotator cuff surgery and Sam Ische who was Anderson's main backup last season. Saleska is counting on one of these two guys to assert his leadership early in the season and claim this important position. If neither of these two returning goalies is impressive then newcomers Matt McCarthy or Tyler McEnery (St. Charles North HS) may end up with the majority of playing time once the season begins.
Even though the Falcons graduated one of the best GK's in the region their defense still should be solid. Returning starters on the back line are central defenders Bryan Samuel and Jason Rogers and outside left back Jake Streicher. In addition, players such as senior captain Phil Dziatkiewicz and junior Justin Wachowiacz have defensive experience and will challenge for the outside right back vacated by three year starter Frank Cole. Coach Saleska remains convinced that sophomore Tyler Harris has the aggressiveness, tenacity, and work rate to become an excellent collegiate defender. Joining this deep defensive group in the battle for playing time are newcomers Jacob Pope (Muskego HS), Jordan Gonzales (Menomonee Falls HS), Andrew Mackenzie (Gordon Technical High), Jon Neulreich (Grafton HS), and Jack Rathe (Lake Zurich HS).
Another positive aspect of this year's squad is the return of an experienced midfield that graduated only one starter, Dan Braun. The team is counting on the continued skillful play from junior Victor Mendoza, and sophomores Zach Lemler and Kyle Sytsma who developed into one of the most effective and efficient midfields in the school's history. Saleska believes that players such as Jim Kroll and Arturo Vera along with newcomers such as Blake Edler (St. Charles Lutheran HS), Tyler Hess (Arrowhead HS) and Cesar Martinez (Tenor High) have the ability to help replace the strength and experience of departing defensive midfielder Dan Braun
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the 2010 squad is who will replace four year starting forward Trevor Hess who earned All Region status and ended up ranked 10th in career scoring. Once Trevor was injured midseason, the Falcon scoring ability dropped dramatically. Coach Saleska made it a recruiting priority to find one or more forwards who have the ability to score goals at the collegiate level.
Competing for playing time up front are returners Ryan Folgate and Enrique Alvarado and newcomers Miguel Frias (Thomas More HS), Chris Rakos (Rockford Lutheran HS) Collin Taylor (Plainfield South HS) and Enzo Berrini (Lockport East HS). According to Coach Saleska, if the Falcons can find one or two players who can create their own shot and find the back of the net on a consistent basis they again will have a solid team that should be able to compete in the much improved Northern Athletics Conference.