South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Mehlville High soccer building on success of a solid 2021 season

Panthers have experience in playoffs from last season
Mehlville boys soccer head coach Tom Harper is confident that the team is in a ‘good place’ with a solid core returning from last year’s group.

After posting an impressive 18-3-1 record and an appearance in the state quarterfinals during the 2021 season, many would believe that the Mehlville boys soccer team would be in a rebuilding year. That may not be the case in 2022 as the Panthers return a solid core from last year’s squad.

“When you come off a season that we had, we’ve actually got some experience coming back,” Mehlville head coach Tom Harper said. “Even though we are a little more inexperienced and a little younger, I think that we’re in a good place. The guys are figuring out right now just what kind of a value they bring to the team this year.”

The Panthers will have a trio of captains this season in seniors Will Raftery, Cade Harper and Owen Foppe.

Raftery saw significant time at the forward position for the Panthers and racked up four goals and four assists in 2021.

“Will has been one of our staples for the last four years,” Harper said. “He keeps reinventing himself each year and keeps getting better and better. He’s come into the year really motivated and focused and were going to rely on him to score some goals this year for us to have any kind of success.”

Harper is another forward that recorded one goal and one assist last season for Mehlville.

“Cade hasn’t been that goal scoring threat for us, but he has the potential to do that,” Harper said. “He’s come into his own this season and is making his mark right now on the practice field.”

Foppe will anchor the backfield as a defender this season and will command a defense that gave up just 0.68 goals a game in 2021.

“Owen’s going to be our anchor in the backfield,” Harper said. “We’re going to let him take charge and he’s going to have a lot on his plate this year. He knows that he is the component back there that makes the back line go.”

Another senior defender that the Panthers will look to this year is Alen Okanovic.

“Alen got a good majority of solid playing time last year,” Harper said. “Defensively he brings in a load of experience and he’s going to be counted on big time this year.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers will rely on junior midfielder Endi Rizvic who is the team’s top returning scoring threat. In 2021 Rizvic notched five goals with four assists for a total of 14 points.

“Endi is coming off a pretty effective sophomore season,” Harper said. “He’s a smart player that leads by example and comes to play every night.”

The Panthers begin the 2022 season at home against Liberty Friday, Aug. 26 at 4:30 p.m.

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