Five Panthers on All-ECC first team

Lautenschlaeger, Joseph repeat on top unit
by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

CONNOR JOSEPH CONNOR JOSEPH The Plymouth Panthers, who won their third straight East Central Conference boys soccer championship this past season, have a league-high five players on the 2017 All-ECC first team.

Plymouth’s senior attacker Connor Joseph and sophomore attacker Clayton Lautenschlaeger were voted to the first team for the second straight season by the ECC coaches. Lautenschlaeger is a unanimous selection.

The Panthers’ other first-team picks are senior defenders Nathan Francis and Adam Smith and junior goalkeeper Gabe Thull. Smith was a second-team attacker in 2016. Francis is the conference’s other unanimous first-team player.

Senior attackers Garrison Pierce and Alex Kelly of PHS were named to the second team. Pierce was also on the second team as a junior.

Earning honorable mention for the Panthers are senior defenders Mason Dale and Brady Petrie.

Lautenschlaeger was the Panthers’ top goal scorer in ECC action with 15. He was second on the team in assists with five and led in points with 35 (two points per goal and one per assist).

NATHAN FRANCIS NATHAN FRANCIS “He has been our top scorer for the last two years. He has been in the top-three players in our conference the last two years. Clayton is quick and talented and his decision-making on the field is almost impeccable,” said PHS head coach Rommy Herrera.

Joseph scored seven goals and had two assists.

“Connor played different positions through the season – scoring important goals as well as assisting his teammates. His great pass to Clayton during the [Division 3] sectional final gave us the opportunity to go to state this year [PHS edged Green Bay Notre Dame, 1-0, in overtime on Lautenschlaeger’s goal],” said Herrera.

“Nathan was our most solid defender – quick and strong, and always making important runs and stopping every attend from the opposite team.”

GABE THULL GABE THULL Francis contributed two goals and a pair of assists.

“Adam was the brain of this team. He is very smart player and a team leader,” said the coach.

“He was able to carry and motivate this team during the whole season. Adam was one of the important reasons we were very strong, defensively, this year.”

Smith scored one goal and had two assists.

“Gabe is not afraid of the ball and finding ways to make a save. He made a difference during the whole season but his best moment was the state game where he played a perfect game and kept us in the game for more than 100 minutes,” Herrera pointed out.

Thull made seven saves in the state semifinals versus Delavan- Darien. The Comets were shut out until they scored twice in the second overtime period to win, 2-0.

ADAM SMITH ADAM SMITH Thull made 63 saves and surrendered only four goals in 10 ECC matches.

Pierce tallied five goals and led PHS in assists with seven.

“His best soccer this season came during the playoffs. We took control of the midfield and made a difference in every playoff game and the state game,” said the coach.

Kelly contributed two goals and four assists.

“Alex was able to move the ball well and was ready to play any position where the team needed him,” Herrera noted.

Dale scored one goal and had two assists.

“Mason is a versatile player that can play almost every position. However, his most effective [position] was as an outside defender making great offensive runs and recovering on time in every play,” said Herrera.

Petrie contributed two goals and an assist.

CLAYTON LAUTENSCHLAEGER CLAYTON LAUTENSCHLAEGER “Brady is a solid defender that gave us the regional title at home after scoring one of the best goals I have seen at the high school level,” said the coach.

PHS defeated Fox Valley Lutheran (Appleton), 2-1, in overtime in a regional final. Petrie’s goal from about 35 yards away gave PHS a 1-0 lead in the first overtime period.

Senior attacker Joseph Raasch of Kettle Moraine Lutheran (Jackson) was voted the ECC’s Player of the Year. Raasch is a first-team pick for the third straight year.

The Player of the Year nominees were Raasch, Lautenschlaeger and Winneconne junior attacker Tomas Pazos-Binaghi. Pazos-Binaghi is on the first team.

Also named to the first team for the second consecutive season is senior defender Blake Harmsen of Waupun.

PHS finished league play with an 8-1-1 record for a total of 17 points (two points per win and one per tie). The Panthers outscored their ECC opponents by an outstanding 46-4 and posted seven shutouts. KML placed second in the ECC at 7-1-2 (16 points).

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