MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Mankato East boys soccer team opens up this season on Thursday at home against Red Wing.
We caught up with the Cougars as the team tries to get over the hump and advance to state.
In four of the past five years, the Mankato East Cougars have made it to a section title game including last season where East fell to Worthington by a final of 2–1.
This season, the Cougars hope to finish the job and play in the state tournament.
“I’ve been in this position before when I first started coaching. Couldn’t win a section championship to save my life, then we win two titles in three years. Now we’re back in the same mode where we’re having trouble winning the final game to get to the state tournament. One of these years, it’s got to give,” said Jerrad Aspelund, Mankato East head coach.
“I’ve always kind of thought, the team that wins the section final is the team that comes together. The past two years, we’ve been close to that, but we’ll see this year if we can find that chemistry and really come together as a team and see where it goes,” said Seth Hardesty, Mankato East senior.
East lost over 20 seniors from last year’s team, but there are almost a hundred kids out for soccer with plenty of young talent to build around to make another run at state.
“It’s going to be tough, we had a large group last year, a lot of those kids logged the most minutes in Cougar soccer history. We do have a freshmen and sophomore group coming in that’s going to come in and log a lot of those minutes,” said Aspelund.
“It’s great to see the program grow, people who just want to play soccer. We have a lot of young kids, it’s going to be a good season,” said Hardesty.
And the Cougars signature, relentless attack, should be another strength in 2019.
“Those forwards have been young for us. Everything behind has been older, but that attacking group has been kind of young. They’re seniors now and it should be more of the same. We’ll have some speed up top, and some tenacity that hopefully will get us through and score a bunch of goals for us,” said Aspelund.
“It’s really fun especially when everyone adapts to everyone else and moves forward quick, we do a lot of damage so it’s fun,” said Brett Borchardt, Mankato East junior.
The Cougars open up the season on this Thursday at 4:00. We’ll take a look at some of the highlights from that contest on KEYC News 12.