By Tori Wittenbrock
GREEN BAY – The UW-Green Bay men’s soccer team is ready to kick off the 2023 regular season with their first official game of the season on Sept. 9 at Detroit Mercy.
Last season, the men’s team finished with an overall record of 6-3-7 and a regular season record of 2-2-5. The Phoenix finished in seventh place in the Horizon League Conference last season.
Important losses for the team this season include goalkeeper Dani Rana — a graduate — and Ruben Linden, a transfer from the Phoenix defensive line.
Notable returners this season include midfielder and team captain Kolton Prater, midfielder Joshua Johansen, forward Chris Album and defender Hesron Barry, as well as 2022 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Tobias Jahn.
“Kolton Prater was our captain last year and will be again this year. He did a really good job showing leadership on and off the field last year, and we really just expect the same from him this season,” said Phoenix Assistant Coach John O’Reilly.
Prater played in all 16 games for the Phoenix last season, with one goal on the season and two assists, while Johansen is entering his senior season after spending the majority of last season on defense as an outside back, scoring two goals and two assists, posting 16 shots on goal.
Barry was named an NCAA Division I Player to Watch by United Soccer Coaches earlier this season.
Andrew Paolucci and Keegan Walker will be returning as well after leading the team in goals last season, each scoring three.
“I think for players to watch, the guys who won player of the year — Tobias Jahn for goalkeeper and Hesron Barry for defense — those are the big ones. Obviously they are a bit older, but our sophomores are strong, too, with Chris Album, Keegan Walker — who was all-freshman — and Rohin Kapala. (Tommy) Coughlin should go in there, Luca (Contestabile). We’ve got some guys who got a lot of minutes last year who we are expecting to step it up this year,” said O’Reilly.
2023 regular season
According to the Horizon League preseason poll, the UW-Green Bay men’s team was picked to finish fifth, after being predicted to place eighth last season.
“I think the biggest thing for us is returning a lot of guys, so just to see the growth of the team from last year as they get a little bit older. We were pretty young last year, and now this year, it’s just about seeing how these guys grow as we get a little bit more experience,” said O’Reilly.
The men’s team has their first home game of the season against UW-Milwaukee on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m for their Alumni Game.
After a promising preseason, there is one main “goal” the Phoenix have for themselves going into this season.
“We struggled to score goals. That’s the big thing for us this year, to try and get the ball in the back of the net,” said O’Reilly.