Experienced Tigers have high hopes

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

HOWARDS GROVE – Bolstered by a veteran roster, the Howards Grove Tigers have high hopes for a successful boys soccer season.

The Tigers return almost their entire team from last season when they finished second in the Central Lakeshore Conference and were a Division 4 regional finalist. HGHS posted an 8-2-2 record in the CLC and was 13- 5-3 overall.

HGHS moves into the new Big East Conference this season which is a combination of the old CLC and Olympian conferences.

“After a short time with my new team I feel extremely optimistic,” said new Tiger head coach Kasey Smith who takes over the reigns from Todd Fischer who stepped down after being the head coach the previous seven years.

“These boys communicate and are in exceptional condition and can move the ball well. We also have some finishers that will allow us to have a potent offense.”

Smith, who is also the HGHS head girls soccer coach, was the head boys coach at Appleton Xavier for nine seasons and guided the Hawks to state titles in 2006 and 2012.

The Tigers return 10 starters from last year, led by senior midfielder Derrick Grimm who was named to the All-CLC first team each of the past three seasons. Grimm led the Tigers in goals with 25 and had seven assists in 2014. He holds the school record for career goals with an impressive 81 and points, 187 (two points per goal and one per assist).

HGHS has three other players who were All-CLC last season – senior defender Lucas Jaeger, a first-team pick, and second-team selections in senior forward Devin Gallenberger and senior goalkeeper Hunter Voss. Grimm had 13 goals and seven assists last season. Voss made 118 saves in 2014.

Smith pointed out the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We are very strong at the midfield positions and have some tall forwards that have speed and foot skills. We need to shore up our defensive positions and get to a crew in the back that are used to playing with each other and can trust themselves,” he said.

The coach mentioned the keys for the Tigers to be successful.

“The boys need to work hard all year,” he said.

“We have a great start with talent but need to get to a point where we can bring 3-4 players on to the field and enhance our play or at least not lose strength. Part of this will include some players playing different positions than they have in the past.”

Smith said Grimm, senior midfielder Jeremy Berglund and Gallenberger will be key players for the Tigers.

“Derrick is a prolific scorer but what has most impressed me is his control of the midfield and willingness to find the open player,” said Smith.

“Devin has also had a tremendous start to the practice week as a powerful forward and has found the net a lot in practice. I expect him to have a huge season.

“Jeremy at our outside wing is also a major threat to get past guys and his ball control is likely the best on the team.

“We have some freshmen that have been extremely impressive in practice. We will have to wait and see if they can jump to a speed of play that they will see against the older boys they will start to face,” said the coach.

“Our lineup is very solid and we have a few boys on the sidelines that will shake up our starting lineup as the season progresses. It will be very nice to have that competition from week to week.”

The Tigers’ other returning starters in addition to Grimm, Gallenberger, Voss, Jaeger and Berglund are Ben Dehne, Nick Peterson, Mason Stauss, Carson Teske and Peter Grimm.

The coach pointed out the team’s top goals.

“The boys want to take care of the conference title and then move deep into the playoffs. They have the potential and I expect they will work hard to make these goals happen,” he said.

Smith thinks HGHS should be considered one of the favorites to win the conference title. Sheboygan Christian won the CLC last year with a 12-0 record and returns several key players.

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