West Salem Soccer Looks to Make History

• Brady Niemeier

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The West Salem boy’s soccer team’s regular season is coming to an end, and they are starting to shift their focus towards winning their first playoff game in four years. The team has had a roller coaster of a season, winning five of their first six games, then going on a skid where they either tied or lost seven games in a row. They picked up a few more wins against Adams-Friendship and Mauston, but then lost a conference game to Logan at the end of the week. “We have had many ups and downs this year, and we are going through a rough patch right now,” said varsity midfielder Kaleb Korn. Team members point to their exhaustion as an explanation for this rough patch. “We have played a lot of games the past few weeks, we have played 2-3 games a week and it has been physically tiring,” said Korn. 

The Panthers still have two more games before the playoffs start, which will be against La Crosse Central and rival Onalaska. After those games, the team will start playoffs. Playoffs are a big focus for the team this year, especially for varsity player Sam Szymanski. “Our focus now is to play these last two games and then get prepared for playoffs, taking it game by game and seeing how long of a run we can make,” said Szymanski. The Panthers will start their journey through the playoffs by traveling to Edgewood to face Madison Edgewood, and some of the players are ready to step up and become a leader through this run. Szymanski has been on varsity for the entirety of his high school career, and has seen the team change through the years. “We lost many seniors within the last two years I’ve played, but they have led this team to have a little more drive as a young group of guys,” said Szymanski.

This program has had many challenges within the past four years when playoffs had come around, such as being upset by a 13 seed two years ago, and losing in the first round last year in a close game. Challenges of the past have not stopped this team from believing that they have what it takes to made it far. “We have been eliminated early in the playoffs a lot the past few years, and we have always had injury problems on this team,” said Korn. “This team fights through it every year, and we always end with a successful season, and this season will be the same.”  While the team is going into playoffs as underdogs, they plan on making a historical run. Playoffs will begin with an away game against Madison Edgewood on Thursday.