Boys soccer team wins Suburban East Conference

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Photo by Thomas Cass

Junior forward Blaine Batchelor attacks an Irondale defender with the ball. The Ponies boys soccer team wins an important conference game.

Led by multiple Mr. Soccer candidates, the SEC champion boys soccer team takes a 14-1 overall record into section playoffs after going 8-1 against conference opponents.

After losing to Mounds View in the state tournament quarterfinal the team graduated five seniors who were some of the biggest contributors on the stat sheet last year. To fill this void, the team counted on five players who did not start on varsity last season, two of them coming up from junior varsity, and one outside player, Liam Moreira.

Senior forwards Miki Taddess and Liam Moreira, leaders of the team’s offense, are both Mr. Soccer candidates this season. Moreira and Taddess are tied for ninth in the state with 21 goals each in the regular season. Moreira leads in the assist department with 17 this season, taking sole possession of second in Minnesota while Taddess follows up with six.

“It’s going to be a competition… but, that’s my bro and if he gets Mr. Soccer, if I get it, I’m happy both ways,” Taddess said.

Moreira added, “We both, we’re just you know, so happy for each other that we’re both, you know, doing so good.”

Their high powered offense controls play almost all game, scoring 73 goals while only letting up 8 goals all season. With offense from all over the field, 13 team members have at least one goal this season while all 18 varsity players, excluding goalies, have at least one assist.

Our impressions always been that regular season is preseason… so we get ready for that postseason tournament.”

— Jake Smothers

“Teams are going to start working hard to take away our attacking players, are going to change their tactics specifically for us,” head coach Jake Smothers said.

A strong back line that had some questions coming into the season gives the rest of the team the confidence to open their game beyond their normal gameplan. Returning only one varsity defender, they have been able to overcome the challenges they have faced this season creating a strong foundation for this team.

Smothers praised the ability of their defensive players to make passes and get themselves out of trouble. Being confident in their game and keeping the right mindset is something that really helps drive this team. It is what has allowed them to overcome most of their biggest challenges they have faced as a team this year.

When talking about challenges they have overcome this season Taddess explained, “coming back from that 3-1 was definitely a moment we were like, ‘oh, yeah, we’ll beat anybody in the state.’” 

“Our impressions [have] always been that regular season is preseason… so we get ready for that postseason tournament,” Smothers said.