This season is going to look different for the Waconia girls soccer team, as the season has been shortened and less games will be played. There are still questions on how the season will play out, but the ‘Cats are just happy to be playing.
“We don’t know when this will end, so let’s just make the most out of every minute that we’re out there,” said coach Ivan Woyno.
With the summer programs limited or nonexistent due to COVID-19, the roster could be in flux early. Waconia held a longer tryout period because of the strange summer, but the good news is that they have a lot of talent at every level. Waconia lost double digit seniors to graduation from the team that went to state, including almost 10 who were at the varsity level. Yet the depth should help them this season.
“I think there are some players that are developing that may move from JV to varsity fairly quickly,” Woyno said. “We’ll have some solid, solid players on the varsity level that continue from our state tournament run. Most of the losses from last year from the year that we had, are being replaced by players that have the caliber to participate, so our starting 11, in my opinion, will be just as solid as last year. Now the question is, can the players that need to contribute a few minutes here and there do that in the level of play that we’ve had in the past?”
And while there are less games this year, there are some benefits that could arise from the situation. Added practice time, more recovery time and new ways to keep the team connected could help players down the road.
“The recovery from game to game is easier knowing that you have two games, not three or four games,” Woyno said. “In my opinion it gives us more time to focus on developing, I think it’s not going to benefit us necessarily this just this year, but I think it is going to benefit us next year and the year after that, because we can really have a lot of practice with the players that are coming up and the seniors are going to make a huge impact. In order to remain as a program that is committed to success and to winning, you have to take a look at every challenge as a lesson to be learned and an opportunity to be exploited.”
This season will be the last for Waconia in the Wright County Conference, so their goal is to win the WCC title on their way out. Woyno predicts a close three-way race for the crown in a conference that has become pretty tough.
“You’ll see Watertown-Mayer has moved up in their style of play and how competitive they’ve become, they’re definitely a team to beat,” he said. “Orono graduated quite a few seniors, you never take them lightly, but thats a different dynamic there. I still see Orono, Watertown-Mayer and us, in some sort of order, at the top of the WCC. I’m still confident in our returning players that I think well have a pretty good push at it.”
With the season in flux, the Wildcats hope to meet the challenges with an increased intensity every time they step onto the pitch.
“We need to treat every game as if it was the last game of the season,” Woyno said. “Every game you have to act like you’re playing Orono or Mahtomedi in the state tournament. You’ve got to treat every second you have in this season as very special. You have to treat it like this could be the state championship for you, like this could be the game that ends it. Because of that, we are approaching this very methodically and very focused, to say that we are going to take every opportunity to showcase our talent. We’re going to take every opportunity to deny goals and score goals.”