Janesville Cougars’ soccer motto: Build on success
That’s the motto this season for Janesville Craig High’s boys soccer team.
The Cougars, after winning only five games combined in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, won seven games last year in Charles Friedrich’s first year as head coach.
Can the Cougars top the seven-win mark this season?
“That’s a good question,” Friedrich said. “We started a little slow losing our first two, but beat a much-improved (Janesville) Parker to get our first win (3-2 on Tuesday). If you look at what we’ve done in those first three games, we’re progressing as we need to.
“Right now, it’s a matter of playing with confidence and finishing. If we can combine those two elements, I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a good season.”
Senior Tyler Meinders is the top returning player for the Cougars. The senior was moved from defense to forward this season to take advantage of his athleticism.
“Tyler shut down every team’s big scorer last season on defense, so his reward was getting a chance to play up front this year,” Friedrich said. “He’s shown he can be a phenomenal forward, and the key for him will be learning to finish when he gets the chance.”
Friedrich calls seniors Tom Kitching and Mo McCrone the “heart and soul” of the team. The two midfielders are three-year starters and the majority of play will revolve around those two, according to Friedrich.
“Mo’s got the shot, while Tom has the range,” Friedrich said. “Being a kicker on the football team, Tom really has a strong foot and a great touch. Mo’s always around the ball and knows where to be all the time on the field. They’re our workhorses.”
Peter Cooney is the team’s goalkeeper. The junior stepped in for the injured Max Niedermeier a year ago and has stayed in the position.
“Peter’s tall and has quick hand/eye coordination,” Friedrich said. “His skills are getting better and better.”
The one area of concern for Friedrich heading into the rugged Big Eight Conference schedule is the lack of experience on defense for the Cougars. Craig’s top defender, Saul Arellano, is serving a six-game academic code suspension, which leaves the team shorthanded.
“It’s a talented group (of defensemen) but very inexperienced,” Friedrich said. “We’re going to need some sophomores and freshmen to step up right away and contribute.”
Senior Juan Silva has been moved from sweeper to stopper, while senior Alex Nguyen and sophomore Connor Sheedy are also expected to play defense.
(7 p.m. starting time unless indicated)
AUGUST: 26—Beloit Memorial; 31—At Madison La Follette.
SEPTEMBER: 2—Madison Memorial; 7—At Middleton; 11—Craig Quadrangular (w/ Delavan-Darien, Stoughton, De Forest), 9 a.m.; 14—Janesville Parker; 16—At Madison East; 18—At Menomonee Falls; 21—Evansville, 6:30 p.m.; 23—Madison West; 25—Craig Triangular (w/Beloit Memorial and Janesville Parker), 9:30 a.m.; 20—At Verona, 5 p.m.
OCTOBER: 2—Fort Atkinson, 11 a.m.;
5—Sun Prairie, 6:30 p.m.; 7—Lake Geneva Badger, 6:30 p.m.