Whether it's soccer or hockey a coach wants to build forward from the net.
Brainerd boys' soccer coach Cahil Collins projects defense as the backbone of his team as the Warriors prepare to open the season Tuesday at home against St. Cloud Tech.
Goalkeeper and captain Brian Sexton has returning defenders in front of him like seniors Damon DeCora, Michael Ruen and Jacob Westphal and junior Coyer Mackner. That should be a formidable wall for opponents to penetrate.
"This will be Brian's third year as our starting keeper," said Collins, whose squad opens at home Tuesday against Little Falls. "That right there is like an anchor, he's so solid in goal.
Captains of the Brainerd Warrior boys' soccer team this season are Chris Nathan (left), Gil Millette and Brian Sexton. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey
» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"On top of that, Damon is a third-year starter, Michael is a two-year starter, the same with Jacob and Coyer. Our defense looks very strong."
The Warriors will also be strong at midfield where junior captain Chris Nathan returns with junior Jordan Posch.
"It's the first time we've had a junior captain," Collins said of Nathan. "His play and leadership just dictated that this was what we were going to do.
"Chris has great vision of the field, he can see where other people are and make great outlet passes. He has great control of the ball. Along with Jordan, they're going to do a lot to dictate the flow of the game."
They will be joined up front by senior Gil Millette and juniors Jacob Williams and Ethan Nichols and sophomore Joe Nelson.
Head coach: Cahil Collins, fourth season
Career record: 28-17-6 (.622)
2007 finish: 8-4-1 CLC, 9-7-1 overall.
Captains: Gil Millette, Brian Sexton, Chris Nathan
Assistant coaches: Michele Collins, Georgi Georgiev
"Gil and Jacob, on the outside, they've got speed, as well as Ethan and Joe up front," Collins said.
"Overall, this is by far the fastest team I've ever seen Brainerd have. Add on top of that some very good ball skills and this is going to be an exciting season."
Collins believes the Warriors don't have a primary offensive threat but that scoring will be spread among many.
"They're all capable," he said. "In the past we've had some issues putting the ball in the back of the net, but there are six guys up there. It's going to be a horse race to see who has more assists or goals by the end of the year because they're all eager and hungry to get in there."
Others Collins is counting on to contribute initially are Dane Andersen, Forrest McKenzie, Adam Tagtmeier, Scott Thelen and Britton Murrey.
"They're good players," he said. "They will help us when people get tired or when the inevitable injury happens."
The Warriors are hungry for their first victory in section tournament play.
"Brainerd has been cursed with not having won a section game yet," Collins said. "Two years ago we took it to overtime, and lost in overtime. Last year we took it to a penalty kick shootout so we've gone a little bit further each year."
Collins was greeted at the first practice by 11 letterwinners.
"It's really quite exciting to have that many letterwinners coming back, and picking up (sophomore) Zach Hoard (a transfer from Montana) who's a very fine player," he said. "And, there are other people who have been working hard to get on the varsity from last year's junior varsity."
Seniors: Dane Anderson, Damon DeCora, Garrett Hanson, Henry Millette, Michael Ruen, Brian Sexton, Jacob Westphal
Juniors: Coyer Mackner, Forrest McKenzie, Chris Nathan, Ethan Nichols., Jordan Posch, Adam Tagtmeier, Scott Thelen, Jacob Williams;
Sophomores: Matthew Benson, Tanner Christianson, Zach Hoard, Zachary Meyer, Britton Murrey, Joseph Nelson, Logan Rudstrom, Camden Swanson, Evan Werthman;
Freshmen: Benjamin Anderholm, Tylor Bouchard, Zachary Dehning, Wesley Delong, Louis Garbowski, Blake Helwig, Thor Linnerooth, Joshua Murrey, Nicholas Oldham, Andrew Olson, Austin Polcaro, Robert Posch, Zackery Skarolid.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.