Soccer 'Cats return 8 of 11 starters this fall
The 2008 Cassville Wildcat soccer squad returns eight starters off a team that won a district championship and finished fourth in the state last season with an impressive 22-3 record.
The long list of returning starters is led by senior Uziel Franco, last year's leading scorer who earned first team All-District and second team All-State honors in 2007. The talented forward was also recognized as Regional Offensive Player of the Year.
Franco will be joined by senior Luis Ortega, who is expected to join Franco as forward this fall. Ortega garnered first team All-District after the 2007 campaign. Ross Delosantos, another first team All-District selection last season, will shore of the team's back line as defender.
Other returning starters include: senior Corey Wilbanks, defender; senior Matt Frazier, defender; senior Omar Valenzuela, midfield; junior Matt Angel, midfield; and junior Bryan Schroeder, midfield.
The Wildcats did lose two key players from last year's team.
Ryan Schlichtman, who played up front with Franco, was one of the team's leading scorers and was an All-State second team selection for the second year in a row. Anthony Larson was the team's goalkeeper and his performance earned him Regional Goalkeeper of the Year honors. The team will also be without senior Aaron Jamieson this year who chose to focus on his football kicking duties this fall.
To fill in these possible holes, Coach Brian Wilbanks will rely on a host of newcomers with potential who hope to break into the starting line-up this fall.
These top prospects include: junior Justin Mills, defender/midfield; junior Caleb Wilbanks, defender/midfield; junior Jesus Rivera, midfield; sophomore B.J. McGuffey, midfield; senior Nashe Lugeanbeal, midfield/defender; and junior Josh Dyer, goalkeeper.
"We should be able to compete as one of the top teams in the district," said Coach Wilbanks, who will be assisted this year by Jonathan Winslow. "We have many talented players, and we are working hard to figure out who is our goalkeeper."
Coach Wilbanks expects Bolivar, Monett, Carl Junction and Webb City to field strong teams this fall.
"Every game will be important to get stated well in districts," said Coach Wilbanks. "Many schools out of our district are going to be very talented."
One team the Wildcats will not have to worry about is Carthage. The Tigers have been moved up to Class 3 this fall. Cassville will play their nemesis during regular season play but not in districts.
The Wildcat strikers open their season at home on Tuesday, Sept. 2 against Neosho at 4:30 p.m. All games will be played on the high school's new soccer field located below the baseball field.