By Chris Parker
Defense will the strength of the Cassville soccer team this fall behind returning all-district seniors Noah Parsons and Carter Fletcher and junior Michael Sommers.
Parsons is the leader of that group after being named all-district three times in his career, but will likely move to an attacking role this year. He played up top at forward from time to time where he was able to score five goals on the season. This year he will see even more time at forward. Andrew Littlefield will also bring versatility to the back line.
Senior Vance Supulver will take over in goal after the graduation of all-district keeper Kory Harvey. Supulver was Cassville’s keeper as a freshman and sophomore before moving to midfield to help the team last season.
“Ahead of last season, I saw some strides Kory was making in goal and had a conversation with Vance, who is also a talented outfield player,” Cassville head coach Jake Forste said. “I asked if he would be interested in moving to the midfield to allow me to get he and Kory both on the field. Vance’s response was ‘I’ll do whatever is best for the team’. That selflessness made Vance a captain pretty much on the spot.”
JJ Okel returns at forward after leading the team in scoring last season with eight goals. He was a football player in his freshman and sophomore seasons before joining the soccer team as a junior where he found immediate success.
Luis Lara will key things in the midfield in his senior season.
“Luis’ work-rate is second-to-none,” Forste said. “His ability to stop opposing counters and send service to our guys up top is a big factor for us. He also has the ability to score with both feet and key an attack in a moment’s notice.”
Andrew Berndt will join Lara in the midfield. He played just 10 full games due to injury, but was still second on the team with seven goals. Cassville finished 6-16-2 last season, but were 5-7-2 with Berndt in the lineup.
Sophomores Dylan Berndt, Russell Dunker and Carson Wittemire all got experience as freshmen and should see time in the midfield.
Michael Sommers has started 47 of a possible 48 matches in his first two seasons and will return as a wingback and central midfielder. Sophomore Cameron Sloanand junior Eli Herrin are two newcomers to the varsity lineup.
Things will look different in the Big 8 with the addition of Marshfield, Rogersville and Springfield Catholic to the conference from the former Central Ozark Conference Small.
“I’m excited for the conference realignment. The change will allow us to have an all-conference team for the first time in my tenure,” Forste said. “Adding Springfield Catholic to our schedule will be the biggest challenge. They are one of the best soccer schools around. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against them. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Squaring up against those guys each year will be a good barometer for our program.”
Cassville has a strong group of seniors to lean on as the Wildcats look to compete in the new Big 8 and postseason.
“We are excited and ready to begin this season. A deep group of seniors will key our program this fall,” Forste said. “The most important factor for us will be health. If we can stay healthy and hungry all season, the sky is the limit. A lot of players on this team have earned my trust as three and four-year starters. It’s not often as a coach you are afforded such a luxury. If we can stay healthy, we will make some noise in the Big 8, as well as District 12.”
Cassville will host Aurora and McDonald County for a jamboree at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. The Wildcats open the season Aug. 28 through Sept. 1 a home with the Cassville Soccer Classic.