The Ripon High School boys' soccer team got its season started on the right foot Tuesday as it defeated rival Berlin 5-0 at home.
"It's always good to start the season off with a win, especially against your rival,” Ripon head coach Steve Nankervis said. “Berlin is rebuilding; they're still a young team trying to find their way.”
It took the Tigers a little bit of time for the chemistry to click and find the back of the net as well as they didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 17th minute. In the 17th minute, Adam Banerjee played a ball into the box that junior Kaiden Pollesch chested in from a couple yards out for his first career varsity goal.
“We practice running through the ball, and that's exactly what he did,” Nankervis said. “He just ran to the ball, and didn't have to use his foot or his head. He just basically chested it into the goal, which worked."
Pollesch was one of three Tigers to record their first varsity goal in the game as Landon Shidell and Jonathan Muenchow also found the back of the net for the first time.
“Those are all three juniors, so they're going to be around for two more years hopefully,” Nankervis said. “Those are three guys that I was trying to look to see where they were at to fit into the lineup to get significant minutes. Jon started, Kaiden came off the bench, and pretty much as soon as Kaiden came off the bench is when he scored. Same with Landon. Landon, he was on the bench to start the game, and then it wasn't but maybe two or three minutes once he was in the game that he scored his goal as well.”
Shidell tallied Ripon’s second goal in the 20th minute on an assist from Banerjee and added another to make it 4-0 in the 74th minute when he took a pass from Banerjee, beat a defender and the goalkeeper.
Muenchow scored his goal in the 36th minute after senior Drew Kastenschmidt worked himself pretty deep into the box and laid it off to Muenchow to catch the Berlin goalkeeper off his line.
Senior Isaac Whitrock capped off the scoring for the Tigers with a goal in the 76th minute. He took a throw-in from Henry Walheim on one bounce, collected it and put the ball in the back of the net.
Nankervis was pleased with his team’s passing in the game as all five goals were assisted on, with Banerjee notching three of them. He also added that everyone on the roster got “pretty decent minutes.”
“We had a lot of good pass strings,” Nankervis said, noting the Tigers had a 60/40 advantage in possession. “... I got several compliments from some of the spectators that our passing looked really good, so that's nice to hear from the crowd; people recognizing that we were working, we're trying to get better and we're doing the little things as a team to be successful. It was just good team soccer where everyone was involved."
The Ripon coach also was pleased with Ripon’s defense, which had two new starters from a season ago. Berlin did not attempt a shot or a corner kick in the contest, making for an easy day for goalkeeper Liam Gilfillan.
“Defensively, we're looking good; I'm not going to say we're great yet,” Nankervis said. “I still got two new guys back there on the outside in freshman Collin Mancl and junior Garrison LaViolette. They had really good moments and they had some coachable moments, too, that we're going to clean up this week going into the Berlin Tournament … I'm solid in the middle with Dylan [Kamin] and Henry [Walheim] … It's just making sure those outside guys get that good cohesion with the other two guys in the middle, which is going to come.”
He added LaViolette is no stranger to the sport as he just took last year off because he had other things going on in the spring, while he’s had Mancl since Mancl was 9 years old, coaching him on youth teams.
Nankervis will look to get LaViolette and Mancl, as well as a couple of other guys, some more experience Saturday, when Ripon takes part in the Berlin Tournament.
The Tigers will begin the tournament against Omro, which is a match-up of the championship game from the past three times the competition took place.
Ripon won two of those meetings (2017 and 2018), while Omro prevailed in a shootout in 2019.
The winner of the game will move into the semifinals, while the loser goes to the consolation bracket.
“This week will be another true test — three different teams, three different looks,” Nankervis said. “... Hopefully, we can have a good showing against Omro in the first game of the tournament."
The competition is slated to get underway at 9 a.m. at the Berlin Community Soccer Complex.