After going 27-11-7 over the last two seasons, the Washington boys soccer team wants to stay at a high level.



Despite the loss of a dozen seniors, five of whom were starters, the Panthers have no thoughts on taking any steps backward in 2011.


After going 27-11-7 over the last two seasons, the Washington boys soccer team wants to stay at a high level.

Despite the loss of a dozen seniors, five of whom were starters, the Panthers have no thoughts on taking any steps backward in 2011.

Washington was third in the Mid-Illini Conference for the second year in a row. Last season’s mark was 4-1-2.

“I look for us to be right in the top tier of the conference,” Brooks said. “We don’t plan to have a rebuilding year this year.”

Six starters return for the Panthers, who were scheduled to begin their season Tuesday at Bloomington.

The back line is similar to the ’10 team that went 14-5-4 and pushed eventual Class 2A sectional finalist Morton in the postseason.

Brooks called third-year starter Joe Quinn, a  junior, one of the best defenders in the area.

Senior Thomas Alt, a second-team all-league pick a year ago, is a four-year starter who brings great speed and improved ball skills. There were thoughts last week of moving Alt more up the field.

Junior Grant Cotner will be another steady performer as a defender.

Senior midfielder Tyler Alexander likes to play physical.

At center midfielder, junior Sean Mayginnes returns for his second year in a starting slot.

There are plenty of pieces on hand to compensate for the loss of first-team all-conference selections Scotty Alexander (the leading goal scorer) and Zach Peterson and second-teamer Grant Wiseman to graduation.

“We still have a really good team this year,” Mayginnes said.

Another midfielder, senior Ben Weil, can handle a couple of assignments in that area of the field.

Washington got a pleasant surprise over the summer with the addition of a transfer and three newcomers from other sports. All of the athletes are juniors.

Alex Milstead came over from Eureka/Roanoke-Benson. Mason McCoy, Chase Vogel and Riley Woodward also will help.

“People have filled up the gaps this year,” Weil said.

Senior Paul Born returned from a military program, and he will ready by the start of the season.

The goalkeeper position was still being determined last week after Nick Garrison’s career concluded.

Senior Justin Turpin and juniors Nick Shirk and Tyler Martin have stepped forward to give that role a shot.

“They’ll get there,” Brooks said. “They’re committed to it.”

Whoever loses out in the keeper derby likely will contribute as a field player.

The rest of the roster consists of: seniors Zack Hughes and Travis Wilkin and juniors Jaime Belsley, Ben Armstrong, Dan Heren and Tyler Ditman.

Although captains were not yet selected as of Aug. 16, Brooks said he expected Quinn, Alt, Mayginnes, Alexander and Cotner to be team leaders.   

The Panthers continued to have a strong contingent of players compete in club environments in the offseason.

There also is a strong frosh/soph squad this fall, but more are welcome. Any underclass players interested in joining the soccer program should contact one of the coaches.

Morton is the three-time defending M-I champion.

Metamora and Dunlap likely will join Washington in challenging the Potters.

The Panthers’ M-I opener is Tuesday vs. East Peoria.

Brooks noted the contributions of the parents and the WCHS Booster Club have been huge in elevating the boys soccer program.

“The parents are great as always,” he said. “They’ve created a sense of community for the entire program.”

French teacher Nate Sidwell is the new assistant coach. He replaces Jonathon Kingdon.

“He’s been a nice addition so far,” Brooks said of Sidwell.

Washington returns to Mahomet-Seymour Saturday.

“Our goal is to win that for the third year in a row,” Brooks said of the round-robin tournament hosted by the Bulldogs.