The Stoughton boys soccer team could be one of the toughest roadblocks in defending Division 2 state champion Oregon’s quest to repeat as Badger South Conference champions.
The Vikings return three starters from a team that went 11-7-3 and tied Madison Edgewood for third in the Badger South with a 4-2-1 mark last season.
The Vikings will be led by senior centerback Colin Holtan, who was honorable mention all-conference last season. Holtan scored four goals and had two assists as a junior last year.
“Colin is a fiery leader who’ll move mountains on his back for his teammates,” Stoughton coach Michael McIntosh said.
The other returning starters are A.J. Mittelsteadt (midfielder) and Jacob Ferguson (centerback). Other returning letterwinners are Derek Karlen (striker), Evan Herbst (fullback), Sam Kicera (midfielder). Karlen is the leading returning scorer with five goals last season. Mittelsteadt is back after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Monroe last year.
Three other returning letterwinners for the Vikings are junior forward Henry Merhing, junior midfielder Jackson Talbert and Jaden Clausen.
Clausen is another potent scorer who would play a larger role this season..
“Jaden Clausen’s skill sets make him a potent adversary against any team,” McIntosh said. “He has excellent foot skills.”
Stoughton has to fill the void left by goalkeeper Nolan Meyer, who was one of four unanimous first-team all-conference players last year. The Vikings have seven newcomers, including Meyer’s replacement in junior Steven Benoy.
Senior James Hanson is another newcomer who McIntosh said will play a larger role at forward.
Another first-year player who could emerge as a scoring threat is sophomore Nicolar Rivera, who was ranked No. 1 nationally and won a WIAA Division 1 state championship as a freshman.
Oregon and Monona Grove are the favorites in the Badger South, according to McIntosh.
“With their abundance of talent and great coaching, both are poised for big seasons,” he said. “If they didn’t have to play each other in sectionals last year, both would have gone to state.”
Sauk Prairie 3, Stoughton 0
The Vikings were shut out in their nonconference season opener Tuesday, Aug. 27, in Prairie du Sac.
The Eagles scored three goals in the first 20 minutes.
Stoughton and Sauk Prairie are in the same regional this season.
“I think it was important for our seeding,” McIntosh said. “We came back and shut them down in the second half which was an inspiration.”
Stoughton sophomore keeper Ethan Peterson had 10 saves in the first half, and Benoy posted eight saves in the second half.
Rivera marked Sauk Prairie’s top player and held him scoreless.