Willmar Cardinals boys soccer preview
Richard Courtney, 7th season
Chad Akerson; Matt Williams, Ross Dahl JV 1; Brad Haugen, JV 2
Central Lakes Conference: 7-7, fifth place
Overall: 14-9, Section 2A champions
Season: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Mankato East.
Central Lakes Conference: 5 p.m. Tuesday at St. Cloud Apollo
SENIORS: Abshir Ahmed, attacker; Abdiqadir Yusuf, attacker; Abdiweli Yusuf, defender; Badal Ali, midfielder; Joshua Centellas, midfielder; Spencer Davis, midfielder; Josh Freitas, goalkeeper; Ahmed B. Hussein, midfielder; Ahmed Hussein, attacker; Tim King, defender; Stephen Reynolds, midfield; Josh Wright, defender
JUNIORS: Abdifatah Ali, defender; Muktar, Dahir, attacker; Mitch Fader, midfield; Omar Hussein, attacker; Kevin Keenan, defender; Liam Johnston, midfield; Jeff Newberg, midfield; Landon Peterson, midfield
SOPHOMORES: Bakar Aden, attacker; Graham Dahl, midfield; Caesar Jimenez, attacker
- The Cardinals won 14 matches for a second year and reached the state tournament for the first time, losing in the quarterfinals at St. Cloud State to eventual state champion Breck.
- There is good experience on the 22-player varsity roster, which includes 10 letterwinners and six returning starters. There is a large freshmen turnout, which will help stock the JV 1 and JV 2 teams.
- Josh Freitas, last fall's JV 1 goalie, will patrol the net with the graduation of all-conference pick Steve Kluver. Freitas must play well for Willmar to challenge for the top-three finish in the conference.
- Senior Ahmed B. Hussein, a starter in 10th grade, returns after attending school in Connecticut last year.
- Badal Ali can play defense, midfield or attacker with equal authority. His switch to sweeper toward the end of the season ignited Willmar's late run.
- Josh Wright, Tim King and Kevin Keenan, who is up from the JV, will lead the defense. Liam Johnston and Landon Peterson are returning starters at midfield. Abshir Ahmed is a returning striker who will be counted on for scoring.
- The CLC goes to nine teams with the St. Cloud Apollo and Sauk Rapids pairing at an end, creating two teams from one. Defending champion St. Cloud Tech and runner-up Brainerd again are the teams to beat.