Loss of several standouts prompts Pirates to regroup with well-rounded attack
HOPES FOR A winning season of Port Washington boys’ soccer will depend on steady performances from veteran players (top photo), including (front row, from left) Alex Becker, Alex Bello, Jacob Setzke, Mason Purtell, (back row) Kelvyn Larsson, Carlos Helmstedt, David Cornell, Mitchell Lemons, James Klotz, Colin Kinzer, Danny Macek and Dakota Kwasny. At right, Larsson (center) and Purtell battled for possession of the ball during a preseason practice. Photos by Sam Arendt
Filling the voids left by lost talent doesn’t always mean discovering new stars.
Take this season’s Port Washington boys’ soccer team, for instance. A balanced approach may serve the Pirates just fine.
Confronted with the graduation of four standout players — forwards Danny Karrels, midfielders Sam Dean and Marcus Lackovic and defender D.J. Soya — Port coach Mike Bultman is counting on a balanced approach to keep his team competitive.
“We lost only four kids to graduation, but they were all three or four-year varsity players,” he said. “They were guys we counted on a lot, and we really can’t replace them.
“But we should still have a team with a lot of good players, the kind that won’t win you games all by themselves but won’t lose any, either. It just depends on who steps up and how well they play together.”
The Pirates, who went 10-13 overall and 1-6 in the North Shore Conference last year, have at least 11 players back who contributed at the varsity level.
Leading the veterans are six seniors — goalkeeper Mitch Lemons, forwards Alex Bello and Dave Cornell, midfielders Dan Macek and Colin Kinzer and defender Carlos Helmstedt.
Lemons earned All-NSC second-team honors last year, and Bello is the Pirates’ top returning scorer.
Port’s junior veterans include midfielders Alex Becker and James Klotz and defenders Jacob Setzke, Dakota Kwasny and Kelvyn Larsson. Sophomore forward Mason Purtell will also be counted on to bolster the team’s attack, Bultman said.
“The one benefit we had last year is that most of these players got a lot of playing time,” Bultman said.
“We depended a lot on Danny (Karrels) up top, and D.J. and Mitch to get us out of trouble, but our other players were there with them.”
Among others in the mix for playing time, Bultman said, are seniors Mitchell Jaeger (defender), Eric Graf (forward) and Nick Kopp (defender) and freshmen Tyler Schulteis (midfielder) and Tyler Grisar (defender).
Port faces the unenviable task of playing in arguably the toughest soccer conference in the state. Even so, the Pirates were close to .500 in the league last year, with two of their losses coming by one goal.
Bultman sees Germantown, Cedarburg and Whitefish Bay as this year’s top NSC teams.
“With the others, we’ve got a chance to do something,” he added.
The Pirates were scheduled to open the season this week with a nonconference match against Sheboygan Christian on Tuesday and will participate in the Mukwonago Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
On Aug. 23, Port will open North Shore play with a 7 p.m. home game against Milwaukee Lutheran