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Morale, expectations high for Wolverine soccer

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Coming off a condensed and postseason-less 2020 campaign that saw the Wolverines earn a 3-5-2 record, the Westwood High School varsity soccer team enters this fall motivated to make improvements and make a run at the TVL title. 

With a normal schedule, normal rules and the state tournament returning, excitement amongst the Wolverines is high. Leading Westwood in 2021 will be a pair of senior co-captains in center attacking mid Drew DeStefano and center-mid Conor Curtin. Also back to lead the Wolverines are senior defenders Monet Elias and Padraig Lombard, as well as senior midfielder Brendan Wang and senior forward Kyle Hallahan. 

“I would say the main goal for the team this year is to win the TVL,” said DeStefano when asked about his team’s general goals. “Boys soccer hasn’t won the league in over 40 years and it’s been on our minds since we were in middle school. We have a really skilled and hardworking group of guys this season and I believe it’s our best chance to bring home the title. The last two years have been rebuilding years where we didn’t have winning records, so it’s expected that we make playoffs this year. All summer long we’ve been waking up early to work out and practice together, and I don’t think there’s anything this team can’t accomplish. Things are looking really promising.”

Also asked for his general expectations, Elias echoed DeStefano’s confidence and says a high level of effort will lead to positive results. 

“I feel like we got the team that can get the job done this year, as this is one of the best groups I have ever played with,” said Elias. “Just by seeing what they could do during the preseason, if we can replicate this type of form during the regular season, our hopes and expectations should stay very high. There is a positive feeling that can be felt across the entirety of the soccer program as we take things day by day. I feel like I can speak for all of us in saying that our goal is to make a deep playoff run this year and go as far as we can. We expect the utmost effort from everyone in the squad, working for one another.”

Asked for their thoughts on the return of the state tournament, as well as its expansion to a state-wide format in replacement of sectionals, both DeStefano and Elias say it will add fuel to an already extremely motivated group of Wolverines. 

“We have a very strong group this year, as everyone is able to contribute to the team in multiple ways,” said Elias. “The group is buzzing with excitement, especially with the amount of returning players we have this year. And with the expanding statewide format, it just gives us more of a reason to be motivated to make a playoff run and show people what Westwood can do. Although this may be the last ride for us seniors, the future of the Westwood soccer program looks very bright with the all-around quality this program has.”

“The excitement level for this season is very high,” said DeStefano. “The team has been waiting for this moment forever. [We are] mostly a team of mostly upperclassmen, with one underclassman, and we’ve all been playing together for years so the team chemistry is really high and everyone is super committed. We had a 10-0-0 record for summer league and a 3-0-0 record in the preseason, only allowing one goal in those three games. Our undefeated run has only sparked more excitement for what is to come, especially with the return to normal rules. We’re very fortunate to be able to play the game how it’s meant to be played. It’s almost perfect how the COVID restrictions surrounding sports have eased up right before the most important season of our lives. Competing in the state tournament will also be a big goal for the team this year. We are all very excited for the playoff experience as we haven’t made playoffs since my freshman year. I think it’s realistic we make a big playoff push this year too, which would be the perfect way to end the season.”

The Wolverines will open the 2021 season at home against Ashland on September 10 at 4 p.m. 

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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