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

OHS soccer ready for 2023 with experienced defense, fresh offfense

Five players return this year from 2022’s winning season
Oakville head coach Brad Oestrich said the team has a genuine feeling of excitement for the upcoming 2023 season. Photo courtesy of the Mehlville School District.

With five returning starters from a squad that went 13-8-1 last season, the Oakville boys soccer team enters the 2023 campaign with a genuine sense of excitement.

“We feel like it’s going to be an exciting year,” Oakville head coach Brad Oestrich said. “We return a lot of experience with our defense and we have a lot of new faces on offense. I’m excited to see what we can do this year.”

Defense is going to be the Tiger’s strength this season, with seniors Sam Lurkins and Will Hanak roaming the backfield with a commanding presence.

In 2022, Lurkins recorded one goal and one assist for the Tigers.

“Sam will provide a key leadership role for us and add that solidness to the back line for us,” Oestrich said. “He brings a lot of experience to us in the back line and we’re looking for him to do great things for us this year.”

Hanak is another solid defender that will be relied upon to shut down opposing team’s offensive ambitions.

“Will is someone who we’ll have as a defensive minded back,” Oestrich said. “I believe that he’s going to solidify that back line with Sam (Lurkins) this year.”

Senior Blake Woldanski is a midfielder that the Tigers have seen elevate his game in the offseason and will be a factor in Oakville’s success in 2023.

“Blake is a player that has really elevated his overall soccer IQ,” Oestrich said. “He’s really going to help dominate the middle of the field for us this season.”

Joe Effinger is another senior midfielder that will switch roles this season and factor heavily in the Tiger’s offense after notching one goal in 2022.

“In the past, Joe played more of a defensive role for us and we’re looking for him to get into the offensive attack this season,” Oestrich said. “Despite his new role, he has a lot of experience on the varsity team.”

But the most interesting competition this season may be between senior goalkeepers Zack Smith and Adin Sijecic.

Last season Smith saw a majority of the time in goal as he posted a record of 7-3-1 overall with a 0.94 goals against average and a total of five shutouts. Sijecic was 2-2 overall with a 2.00 goals against average.

“Having two senior goalkeepers has its pros and cons,” Oestrich said. “Both are great goalkeepers and we’re having that competition where neither of them can relax this season.”

The Tigers’ head coach is also looking for seniors Conner Allen, Brandon Kostelny, Parker Medina, Luke Schmidt and Blake Woldanski to jump into key leadership roles for Oakville this season.

“We’re looking to benefit from all of their experience, leadership and depth this season,” said Oestrich. “They’re definitely going to be an important part of this team’s success this season.”