Lenz replaces Herrera as PHS boys soccer coach

by Dave Boehler
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH’S CLAYTON LAUTENSEHLAEGER (13) tries to score against Panthers’ goalie Gabe Thull during the first day of soccer practice Monday. — Review photo by Dave Boehler PLYMOUTH’S CLAYTON LAUTENSEHLAEGER (13) tries to score against Panthers’ goalie Gabe Thull during the first day of soccer practice Monday. — Review photo by Dave Boehler John Lenz will never forget July 19.

Not only did Lenz bring his first son home – he was born on the 17th – Plymouth boys soccer coach Rommy Herrera walked in his house to tell him he took a job at Lakeland as an assistant.

“There I was, trying to feed my infant son with a syringe as he told me the news,” Lenz said. “That just added to the excitement of a very great day.”

Lenz, a 2008 graduate of Oshkosh North, coached Plymouth’s junior varsity teams the last three seasons.

“I was excited for Rommy; that was his main goal, wanting to coach at the university level,” said Plymo uth’s Clayton Laut- ensehlaeger. “I was also excited and happy for Lenz because I’m sure he wanted to coach varsity. I feel he will push us and we’ll learn a lot from him. We’ll be able to succeed.”

JOHN LENZ JOHN LENZ Lautensehlaeger begins his third season on varsity, so he is the only one on the team – not including freshmen – that has not been coached by Lenz.

But Lenz says he has a really good bond with the team.

“Most of them actually found out the news before I did,” he said. “You know how that works, teenagers are always more connected than we are. I was worried how they were going to take it just because they were very close with Coach Herrera. They were nothing but excited and ready to go, ready to support me as long as I support them.”

Plymouth’s first practice was held Monday and the Panthers scrimmage Howards Grove on Saturday. They open the season Tuesday at Cedarburg.

The coach says he brings an athletic intensity that he thinks sometimes can be missing from soccer programs. Ferocity is what he’s heard when people describe Plymouth, and he wants to bring more speed and add a relentless attack to

“Also, my coaching style is very strong in the back,” Lenz said. “I’ll always play with a back four, keeping a really strong back line with a strong goalie. That creates a good foundation for our attack to always start intense from the back line.”

Plymouth will be led by Lautensehlaeger, who received all-state honorable mention as a midfielder last year.

Lenz says he is impressive and his biggest attribute is his creativity.

“Just watching him play, he’s in his own little world,” Lenz said. “Not in a sense that he’s not playing as part of the team, but he has his own very creative way to get from point A to point B. Creative footwork, creative passing, creative change of direction, and he does a lot of stuff with looking one way or faking his leg one way, and all of a sudden he’ll be running the opposite way. It’s cool to watch.”

Senior goalkeeper Gabe Thull is another key player after he made first-team all-East Central Conference last year.

“I can only expect better things from him,” Lenz said.

But besides Lautenschlaeger and Thull, the seven others who made all-conference last season graduated.

Plymouth finished 17-4-2, won the East Central with an 8-1-1 mark and reached state for the first time since 2010 and fourth time overall.

The Panthers lost to Delavan Darien, 2-0, in double overtime of a Division 3 semifinal.

“After the game it sucked,” Lautensehlaeger said. “But we knew it was going to happen to someone. It just happened to be us. It happens.”

Lenz was on the sideline for that game, but little did he know the next time Plymouth plays he would be in charge of the program.

“No, at that point and time, I had no idea,” Lenz said.

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