Jacob Langer took over as River Falls boys’ head soccer coach two weeks before the start of the season. Luckily he already knew plenty about the team.
“I've been coaching here with the program for three years now, going on four, and obviously everything fell into place quickly,” he said. “So yeah, familiarity with the kids is huge.”
Langer has been an assistant coach with the Wildcats the last three seasons, and stepped in when former coach Marcos Rodriguez stepped down to take an assistant coaching job at UW-Stout. He said he knew this year’s players had different skill sets than the last few years, and he’s focused on using those skills for the overall benefit of the team.
“We can't run a fast tempo, trying to score as many goals as we can this year,” he said. “It's more of a, can we bunker down and be responsible through the middle and play as a team. And that's been amazing. I couldn't be prouder of the boys.”
So far that approach is working. The Wildcats posted a 3-1 victory in their season opener at Osceola last Tuesday and followed that up with a 2-0 shutout over a very good Wausau West team Saturday at home.
Both River Falls goals against Wausau West came in a span of three minutes. Senior midfielder Miles Longsdorf got things started at the 14:46 mark with assists from midfielder Marvin Manzano and forward Zack Nye before defender Elliott Auderieth scored from forward Tustin Todd at 17:31. That’s all junior goalkeeper Remy Espanet needed to record his first shutout of the season.
“Our defense played incredible,” Langer said. “I think they gave up one chance all game and it was an easy save for Remy. And from there the forwards picked up the rest for him.”
Langer said the strength of the Wildcats this year will be their “spine.”
“Those center mids and those center backs,” he said. “They're our most experienced players and they're incredibly good at what they do. And as long as they work their butts off, we have a good chance of really shutting teams down and keeping games close.”
The Wildcats will open Big Rivers Conference play at home Thursday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. against Eau Claire Memorial.