Ranger boys set sights high

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Forest Park senior JD Kerber (right) kicks a ball during practice Wednesday evening. Looking is fellow senior Gabe Muller (left).


BRETZVILLE — “I’m going to be disappointed if we’re not in that final game of the year, to be honest,” Forest Park boys soccer coach Mike Foerster told The Herald Wednesday evening.

No, he wasn’t about the sectional championship. He’s thinking even further than that — the state championship game.

“The boys, they’ve been playing a lot of soccer — and I think that’s important,” he said. “I’ve had teams in the past where boys play three sports in high school, and you’re trying to pull them away a little bit and you don’t get much out of them. And these boys here, they want it. They want it pretty bad.”

The Rangers went 8-10-1 last year — under .500, but claimed their first sectional championship since 2013. A lot of last year’s team is back, including six seniors in Kristian Alegria, Camren Giesler, JD Kerber, Conner Knies, Gabe Muller and Spenser Wolf.

Kerber, Wolf and junior Carter Hinson give the Rangers some formidable scoring options this year. Both Wolf and Hinson had some crucial goals during the 2020 sectional.

“We got a new player, Wilmer Contreras, he’ll be a junior for us,” Foerster said. “And he’s strong on the ball, too. So, I’m expecting a lot more goals in the back of the net for us this year.”

Foerster touted multiple names to put in Forest Park’s midfield in 2021, such as Alegria, Wolf and Contreras. He noted that Kerber can rotate in there, so can Hinson and Knies.

He doesn’t envision any of his seniors defending this year. Foerster named sophomores Noah Muller and Gus Hagedorn, plus juniors Luke Hagedorn and Jake Dooley as names to play out in the back.

“Last year, we gave up 24 goals in the first three games, and I’m hoping that’s not the case this year,” he said.

Junior Eli Cox returns in goal for Forest Park this season. Sophomore Carter Giesler got some action at keeper last year, and will he might get some minutes in net, Foerster sees him playing the field. Freshman Charlie Hasenour might not get any time in goal this year, but Foerster sees a lot of potential for him in the future.

In addition to limiting goals, Foerster is also hoping his team will move the ball around better this year.

“We moved the ball around really well, but it’s going to be more even more important for us this year to take one, two touches, distribute,” Foerster said. “Because when we get down the road, if we’re able to advance in the tournament, we’re going to play teams that are a lot quicker. And so, it’s going to be important for us to move the ball quicker — one, two touches, get it off your foot, find your teammate, let’s move the ball quicker.”

The Rangers went 2-8 in Pocket Athletic Conference play last year. Foerster knows they’ll see some tough conference foes this year in Heritage Hills and Mt. Vernon, but he thinks they can compete with all of them. He’s hoping to win at least a share of the PAC, if not outright win it.

They’ll get some PAC tests early. Forest Park is set to scrimmage the Patriots Aug. 14, open Aug. 19 at home against Washington, play two days later at Mt. Vernon and have a game Aug. 24 against the Pats.

“As long as the boys all are working towards the same goal, if we’re all rowing in the same direction and nobody’s lagging, we’ll be in good shape,” he said.

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