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Superior soccer team still considers ‘The Swamp’ home

Superior High School goalkeeper Ethan Cooper jumps in the air to knock a shot away from the goal in the first half of the Spartans’ game with Columbia Heights Thursday afternoon at the SHS soccer fields. (Jed Carlson/

The Superior High School boys soccer team opened its season Thursday at the field it knows best:

“Our grass field that we lovingly call the ‘The Swamp,’ ” said Jim Willmore, first-year coach of the Spartans.

The soccer team claims to love its soggy old field — where mosquitoes are ever-present — but they’re looking forward to playing on the brand new turf at the National Bank of Commerce Spartan Sports Complex this season.

“All the boys are stoked,” Willmore said. “I got to go on it last Friday with the administrators and some of the contractors and it’s pretty cool. It’s a great asset for the community.”

The boys soccer team will be the first to play on the new turf when they host Spooner Aug. 28. The grand opening of the complex is scheduled for Aug. 29, when the Spartan soccer and football teams both will be in action.

The two teams will share the new sports complex throughout the season, but Willmore said The Swamp will always be home to him.

“This is our home, and that’s kind of the bonus,” he said. “That’s like getting to drive grandpa’s Cadillac. This is my Buick.”

Nevertheless, Willmore sees this season as the start of a new era for the Spartan soccer team.

Both he and assistant coach Otto Berti are involved with the Superior Soccer Association. Willmore has worked with the youth players for the past five years and envisions a future where the youth program will feed into the high school program seamlessly.

“We think this just fits in perfectly with our whole style of coaching and what we should have for soccer in this community — starting them when they’re very young, keeping them all the way through the high school program and handing them off to Joe (Mooney) at the college,” Willmore said. “We want to kind of join into that positive movement.”

Numbers are down for Superior this year with only 36 players, and Willmore doesn’t try to hide the fact that it may be a rebuilding year for the Spartans.

On offense, junior Logan Kittelson returns at forward. He was named to the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference second team last season.

Senior Derek Copperud will also be looked to for points, and Phillip McCotter will be the third spoke in Superior’s offense.

“We run a three-man rotating forwards,” Willmore said. “The guys rotate so you never know who’s coming down at you.”

Senior Holden Willmore is the team’s defensive captain.

Coach Willmore said the Spartans have has a new defensive scheme that the coaches crafted after watching the World Cup this year.

“It’s not the standard defensive scheme that’s used in the United States,” Willmore said. “Let’s just say we use our defense to condense the field.”

In goal, the Spartans will look to senior Nick Hesselgrave and junior Ethan Cooper.

NOTES: The Spartans opened the season with an 8-4 loss to the Columbia Heights Highlanders Thursday afternoon at the SHS soccer fields. Copperud scored twice for the Spartans, and McCotter and Logan Kittleson both scored once. Columbia Heights scored  four goals in each half. Superior keeper Ethan Cooper finished with 17 saves. The Spartans will play in the Chippewa Falls Quad at 9 a.m. Saturday and then host Cloquet at 5 p.m. Monday. … Superior finished at 5-14 last season.

Spartan Boys Soccer

            Gr.          Pos.

0. Ethan Cooper             11           G

2. Mark Shold  12           M

5. Christian Grimaldi    11           M

6. Ty Russ        9              D

7. Phillip McCotter        12           F

10. Logan Kittelson       11           F

14. Hunter Willmore     10           M

16. Niklas Leck              11           M

17. Josh Menzel             12           D

18. Nathan Tunell          10           M

20. Caleb Potter             11           D

21. Aaron Johnson         10           M

32. Caden Tchop            10           M

33. Blake Hansen          9              D

35. Aaron O’Shaughnessy           10           M

38. Morgan Moen           12           D

45. Jimmy Peterson      9              F

47. Derek Copperud      12           F

49. Nathan Ferrando     10           M

50. Holden Willmore    12           D

53. Jarrett Kallinen       9              F

00. Nick Hesselgrave   12           G