Returning many key pieces from a conference championship team, the Wauwatosa West boys soccer team knows it won't be able to fly under the radar in 2016.
The Trojans entered the season ranked No. 4 in the Division 2 Wisconsin Coaches Association poll and currently sit at No. 5 after one week of competition. Learning how to manage expectations might just be the key to Wauwatosa West's season.
"Last year we were not looked as a favorite and were able to focus and become champions," Wauwatosa West coach Ryan Bailey said. "With what we have back, it will be the opposite, and we must be ready for each team's highest level."
Wauwatosa West returns first-team all-conference forward Will Jushka, midfielder Phil Fobair, defender Cole Seabrook and goalkeeper Colin Sieglaff. Other returners include Noah Katula, Andrew Blomfeldt, Tyler Hipke, Elmir Karabegovic, Parker Summers, Monroe Phillips, Aaron Flierl and Chris Schickel.
Joining the mix for the Trojans will be midfielder Kamrin Pegues from the Chicago Fire Developmental Academy and midfielder Jorge Davila, who has transferred back to the school.
"Our system of play will only be as good as our communication, leadership and speed of play can develop," Bailey said. "The boys are anxious to play but must execute properly to be special."
Wauwatosa West went 2-1 at the Muskego Cup, earning wins over Saint Anthony and Slinger before falling to Green Bay Preble.
The Trojans opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over Saint Anthony on Aug. 24. After a scoreless first half, Wauwatosa West broke through offensively to pull away.
"We started off the season on a strong note as we were able to beat a feisty, experienced team, 4-1," Trojan coach Ryan Bailey said. "We did not boss the game as we would have liked, but that is a credit to what St. Anthony did to us."
Davila put the Trojans up 1-0 in the 62nd minute off a corner kick from Fobair. Less than a minute later, Sieglaff sent a goal kick over the Saint Anthony back line. Jushka corralled the ball and scored to make it 2-0. Saint Anthony pulled to within 2-1 in the 68th minute, but Sieglaff then made two saves in one-on-one chances to protect the lead.
Wauwatosa West answered with a goal from Summers in the 80th minute. Hipke put the game away with a goal in the 89th minute. Fobair assisted on both goals.
"In the second half, we were able to get more numbers into the box as we found dangerous players who were dynamic," Bailey said.
Wauwatosa West scored twice in the first half and held on for a 2-1 win over Slinger on Aug. 26.
Summers put the Trojans up in the 12th minute off an assist from Kamrin Mills-Pegues, and Katula found the back of the net in the 19th minute to make it 2-0.
"We once again jumped out and controlled the game early and shot two goals in the first 15 minutes," Bailey said. "However, we were not able to find a third goal, and after halftime, we no longer had control of the tempo. They were able to get a goal on service, and we were very fortunate to come out with a victory."
Wauwatosa West dropped its first match of the season Aug. 27, falling 5-1 to Green Bay Preble. Davila scored the Trojans' lone goal on a dead ball.
"We did not come out energized, and our mistakes we had made in previous games cost us," Bailey said. "It was good to be humbled early on in nonconference to see where we need improving."