Mortag takes over helm as CG-Belgium soccer team tries to regain winning form, climb ranks in conference
With its third coach in the last two seasons now on board, the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ soccer team may have finally found some stability on the sideline.
The Rockets will also have plenty of talent on the field.
First-year coach Chris Mortag is optimistic about his team’s chances of transforming a 7-14-2 finish last year into a winning mark this fall and moving into the upper echelon of the Central Lakeshore Conference.
“We have a lot of good, young players,” said Mortag, who played soccer at Cardinal Stritch University and coaches with the Port Washington Soccer Club.
“Last year, it was a senior-led team. This season, we have good seniors again with more juniors and younger kids.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium changed coaches midway through the 2012 season on the way to a 5-7 CLC record and a first-round defeat in the WIAA Division 3 playoffs.
The Rockets lost several of their best players to graduation, most notably forward John Schmidt, who earned All-CLC first-team honors. Also lost were standouts Josh Beaudry (all-league second team) and Christian O’Donnell (honorable mention).
However, Mortag and assistant coach Zac Garza welcomed back a group that includes several returning starters.
Among the seniors are goalkeeper Spencer Bares, midfielder Jacob Winker, defenders Jonathan Meerdink and R.J. Lemmermann and defender/midfielder Jesse Gottsacker.
Lemmermann is a 6-foot-8 sweeper who sat out his junior season after playing soccer as a sophomore.
The Rockets’ juniors are led by midfielder Colin Kohl, “who has great speed and excellent ball skills,” Mortag said.
Other juniors include forward Stuart Friberg, midfielders/defenders Ben Schroeder, Erik Weiland, Dan Janeshek and Tyler Garside and defender Tony Nicora.
Mortag is also counting on contributions from sophomore Nick Spedemann (midfield) and freshmen Alec Henry (defender) and Caleb Sells (forward/midfielder).
“We have a nice group of older players and first-year players,” Mortag said. “They’re hungry and working hard.”
Howards Grove and Oostburg shared the CLC title in 2012 and will again be among the league’s title contenders, but Mortag believes his team could
also be near the top.
The Rockets finished fifth last year, but “we want to finish in the top three this season,” he said.
Cedar Grove-Belgium will have a new look in the postseason, having been moved to Division 4 in a WIAA playoff shift that added another division.
Mortag is no stranger to Wisconsin youth soccer. He played three years of varsity soccer at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River before graduating in 2007 and taking his talent to the next level.
“I’m looking forward to this season,” he said. “I think we have a chance to be a really good team.”
This week, the Rockets will open the season Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. nonconference game at Kiel and participate in the Redwing Invitational at
Sheboygan South on Saturday.
Cedar Grove-Belgium’s first tournament match will be against Plymouth at 9 a.m.
The Rockets will begin conference play Aug. 27 with a 4:30 p.m. game at Kohler.
Image Information: JUNIOR COLIN KOHL (left) is expected to be one of the top players on the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ soccer team this season. Photo by Sam Arendt