The Enterprise Wildcats came within one point of a state championship for the first time in school history in 2019, and the 2020 Wildcat soccer team has their eyes on returning to that game this season.
Despite fielding a team with few seniors in 2019, the Wildcats had a dominant run through the playoffs before falling to Hoover 3-2 in the state championship game. Now, Enterprise returns a massive group of seniors that head coach Bruce Ladner believes has the ability to put the Wildcats right back into the title hunt.
“I’ve felt like we’ve had teams good enough to win a state championship in the last 4-5 years and I feel no differently about this team,” Ladner said. “The deciding factor isn’t always how well we’re playing. Sometimes the other team just plays a fantastic game and I felt like a couple of years ago we just ran into a buzz saw (in the playoffs) when I thought we had the best team in the state.
“This year, I think we have a team that is capable of getting to the final four and winning a state championship.”
Ladner said that he will lean on his big group of seniors to lead.
“We had a good offseason and the encouraging thing is we have a group of 12 seniors this year,” he said. “That’s a large number of seniors for us. We’ve never come close to having that number of seniors in any season.
“So, a lot of the guys are familiar with what we do and how we do it.”
Those seniors include Sebastian Guerrero, Sam Mazariegos, Manuel Munoz, Hunter Perry, Anthony Venezia, Jonathan Denham, Dylan Pablo, Luis Calixtro, Alex Rodriguez, Daniel Reyes and Colby Clark.
“You have to start with your seniors (for leadership),” he emphasized. “The guys that are experienced and are used to starting, to carry your team. There’s a lot of experienced players there and they’ve had success. So, it’s a matter of them being hungry enough and getting after it to have the results we’re looking for.”
While Ladner is confident in his team’s ability to score early on in the season, he wants to see more emphasis on defense.
“I’m very confident in our guys’ ability to possess the ball, pass the ball and score points, but you have to be able to stop the other team, as well,” Ladner said.
As far as goals go, Ladner said the Wildcats have one goal this season.
“It’s the same as it always is,” he continued. “A state championship, period.”