New season, same goal

Millard West soccer closes in on start to a new season


Photo By David Rochford

Senior Johnson Lu works the ball up the field in a game last year against South Sioux City. This offseason Lu played on a club team to continue to stay sharp and improve his skills. “I play club so I don’t really have an off-season,” Lu said. “We won state in the fall and we’ve been traveling to places like Phoenix, St. Louis, and South Carolina to play better teams and get more exposure.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

As the Millard West boys soccer team preps for their season opener this Thursday, the Wildcats will be looking to build off of a strong season last year and hope to improve off of their State Tournament run.

Last season, the Wildcats finished with a regular season record of 8-7, making them the second seed in the District A-6 Tournament. Throughout the District tournament the Wildcats played some of the best soccer they had all season with incredibly strong defense. The Wildcats bested both Papillion La-Vista and Lincoln East by a score of 2-1, earning them a State Tournament appearance as the seventh seed. The Wildcats opening round matchup in State was second seeded Omaha South who beat the Wildcats 3-1, ending Millard West’s season.

This year, the Wildcats will be without five of their former seniors from last year’s team and will have to find a new star on offense. Millard West will be without their leader in goals and assists in Caleb Tubaugh. 

The Wildcats will now look to senior Johnson Lu to have another strong season offensively. Last season Lu tallied 10 goals, only trailing Tubaugh, and five assists which ranked third on the team. Millard West will also hope for junior Reegan Hawkins to build off a solid season last year. In his 13 games played last season, Hawkins totaled five goals and six assists. The Wildcats will also look for senior Aidan MacLeod to continue his strong season from last year. MacLeod totaled three goals and two assists in his eight games played last season.

“I think after a good year last year and losing Tubaugh this year I’m going to have to step up and try to make up for that loss,” Lu said. “I’ll definitely have help from the team, I think we have some good players that can help us get there.”

Millard West will also hope for more strong play out of their two goalies this season. Last year, seniors Cody Fuller and Sean Beatty split time in the goal with Fuller playing in 14 games and Beatty playing in eight. Throughout his 14 games, Fuller totaled 1018 minutes played and in that time he had 92 saves and 26 goals scored on him. He also had a 2.043 goals against average per game. In Beatty’s eight games he totaled 402 minutes, with 43 saves and only seven goals scored on him. Beatty also had just a 1.393 goals against average. With two strong goalies Millard West will be able to rely on their defensive presence if the offense is not able to be as successful as last season.

“After last season, I am bringing more confidence to the pitch,” Fuller said. “I know what my abilities are, and I know my team well. We are a really talented team and can go further than we did last year.”

This year the Wildcats will face off against many of the top competitors in the state and have a difficult schedule throughout the entire season. Throughout the year Millard West will face five of the eight State tournament qualifiers from last season. Just like last season, the Wildcats will open their season on the road as they face off against Bellevue East on Thursday, Mar. 17. When these two squared off last year the Wildcats were able to best the Chieftains by a score of 2-0.

“This year is going to be better for the team,” Fuller said. “We had a chance at the title last year, and got close. For a majority of the team, this is their senior season, we want to finish with a state title and will work hard to get there.”

Although the Wildcats will be tested each time they step on the field, with talent spread across the entire field Millard West is poised to capture the title they could not grab last year.