NEW ULM - New Ulm senior midfielder Josh Koelpin has been around the sport of soccer ever since he can remember.
Koelpin's dad is the men's head soccer coach at Martin Luther College and his older sister and younger brother also play the sport.
This year, Koelpin is making his final run as a captain for the Eagles. He directs the team from midfield and the offense always seems to flow through him.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm boy’s soccer captains Daniel Wessel (left) and Josh Koelpin are among 11 seniors on the varsity boy’s soccer roster this year.
For Koelpin, having his dad involved with him in the sport has always been a welcomed advantage.
"Having my dad, he's been my coach for quite a few summers and he's always pushed me the absolute best I can be," Koelpin said. "I've always been out at his practices and his games [at MLC] and I've seen a lot of really good players at the college and it influences me and the way I play. My dad has had a huge influence on the way I play soccer and just my attitude towards things."
Koelpin is one of 11 seniors on New Ulm's roster of 20 players. The strong senior presence means there will be a lot of experience and high expectations for the team.
There are 55 players out for the sport this year, a number that is higher than ever before. Senior defender Daniel Wessel wants to be a leader but he knows that the seniors must make sure the younger players don't depend on them so much.
"We can teach them not to rely on us so much," Wessel said. "We can train them to be independent so that when we're gone, they can just step right in and get to work."
Koelpin is usually a big part of the Eagles offense and how it attacks the opponent. It won't be any different this year, but he is missing his good friend Broderick Brown, who team with Koelpin last year to give the Eagles a dangerous, high-scoring duo.
He's at the center of the field for the Eagles and it allows him to be a force on both sides of the ball.
"I like midfield, because you get to control the tempo," he said. "You just play both sides of the ball. That's why I was never a forward. I like parts of the game - winning balls and winning tackles and I like the passing part."
While Brown is gone, there will be plenty of others for Koelpin to distribute the ball to. They include attackers Seth Wiechman (senior) and Noah Webb (junior), along with Sam Wiechman, Nathan Miller and Joel Koelpin.
Midfielders include junior Jonathan Sehloff, seniors Nicolas Garnter, Josh Koelpin, Jacob Rakoczy, Christian Linan and Justus Morschauser and sophomore Michael Messenger.
Defenders will be seniors Wessel, Timothy Plocher, Alex Bumgartner and Samuel Hoppe juniors Austin Cox, Silas Dose, Jared Otterstatter and goalkeepers will be Issac Lager and Jonathan Sehloff.
Wessel thinks the Eagles can improve on last year's 10-5-1 record.
"We've got a great group of talented guys and you have to work hard enough to make good things happen," Wessel said. "We're going to have a better year than last year and it would be really great if we could go farther this year [in the playoffs]."
Koelpin and Wessel have been a part of a steadily improving squad over the last few years. This year, they'd like to be a part of a deep postseason run.
"You can never be too complacent," Koelpin said. "As soon as you think you're going to walk over a team, that's when your problems are going to start to come. You gotta practice everyday and give 100 percent and work on your own time.
"I would just like to have a solid season overall as a team, I think we'd like to finish in the Top 3 of the conference," Koelpin said.
The Eagles open the season at Fairmont on Friday.