For New Berlin West’s girls soccer team, the formula to win a Woodland Conference championship is a simple one.
The Vikings have the talent to take care of business against the teams at the bottom of the standings, but know winning a league title will require taking down the likes of Wauwatosa West, Pewaukee, New Berlin Eisenhower and Shorewood.
“Like last year, we expect to be in the running for a conference championship, but we will need to get results against the top teams,” New Berlin West coach Matt Drago said. “Losing 1-0 three times, and 2-0 one time in conference were too much to overcome. We have to be better at finishing against the top teams.”
New Berlin West finished last season at 13-10-2 overall and in fifth place in the Woodland at 7-4-0. All four of its conference losses were by 1-0 or 2-0 scores to the four teams it finished behind.
What proved the Vikings are capable of moving up in the standings was a postseason run to the WIAA Division 2 sectional final. New Berlin West won a regional championship with a 5-0 win over Cudahy/St. Francis and a 1-0 victory over Union Grove.
The Vikings then tied Eisenhower, 2-2, in the sectional semifinal but advanced with a 5-4 advantage in penalty kicks. The run ended just short of state with a 4-0 loss to Waukesha West in the sectional final.
New Berlin West will be tasked with replacing two All-Woodland Conference selections in second-team midfielder Courtney Stephens and honorable mention defender Sara Farrell.
But the Vikings return 17 letterwinners from last season, including five players that were All-Woodland.
Two-time first-team All-Woodland defender Morgan Henrichs is back for her senior season to anchor a defense that allowed just five goals in conference play last season.
Also returning is second-team forward senior Jenna Linssen (13 goals, 8 assists) and honorable mention picks senior midfielder Lily Adkison (5 goals, 3 assists), sophomore midfielder Hannah Kroupa (12 goals, 4 assists) and senior defender Ewelina Schlomann.
Other letterwinners back include seniors Anna Bennett, Leah Mushall, Tyler Neutgens, Alyssa Rawsk, Aubrey Tarmann (9 goals, 5 assists) and Emily Siegen, juniors Madison Kelly, Sammie Lundin and goalkeeper Mary Moczulewski and sophomore Emily Ehrmann.
Sophomore Gracelyn Bender lettered on the varsity team last season but played mostly on junior varsity, where she scored 25 goals. Junior Alexis Poellinger will be on the varsity roster after coming up late last season. She played defense a year ago but is a natural center midfielder.
Neutgens, a defender, is back after missing last season due to a torn ACL.
“Defending has usually been our strength,” Drago said. “We surrendered just five goals in the Woodland last year, and are returning all but one of our defenders.
“We need to improve on staying positive with one another. Relating to soccer, our creativity in the final third was an issue for most of last season, and is improving this year, but there are still too many times that we are stale in front of the opponents goal.”