CARL JUNCTION — The Neosho Lady Wildcats took a big step last spring in winning their first district title in program history, breaking through after multiple close calls.

CARL JUNCTION — The Neosho Lady Wildcats took a big step last spring in winning their first district title in program history, breaking through after multiple close calls.
The Neosho boys hope they make the same breakthrough this fall and punch their ticket to sectionals with a district title.
The Wildcats have a new home field as well this season, one which they hope to debut August 28 in the season opener against Joplin.
Taking everything into consideration, excitement for this new season might even be higher than normal for this season’s Wildcats.
“We lost a lot (from last year),” Neosho head coach Steve Schnackenberg said, “but we’ve got guys stepping up. I tell you, our first couple of weeks of practice have been outstanding. These guys came out with a purpose and to look like this early on just shows that. Their work ethic in practice … to fill the shoes of those seniors that left last year.
“We’ve got a good work ethic. We’ve got a good core of leaders, not just our three captains but we’ve got a lot of guys who lead and we’ve got a group of guys that are wanting to do it together. Definitely the field presence, the skill, and the strength are there, so it’s just a matter of us putting it together on game night.”
Neosho traveled to Carl Junction on Monday and scrimmaged against the host Bulldogs, Webb City, and College Heights.
Taking on College Heights, the Wildcats fell behind 1-0 on a goal by College Heights defender Ben Bishop, who worked one past Neosho senior goalkeeper Hank Selig.
Then, however, Neosho put it on the rest of the 25-minute period with five unanswered goals. Sophomore midfielder Yahir Ruiz put the Wildcats on the board, then came goals from junior forward Bryan Perez and senior midfielder Hunter Gilliam. Sophomore midfielder Etian Pupo netted a pair of goals to close out the scoring, including a penalty kick.
At least three of the five goals were highlight-reel caliber and the Wildcats overall showcased both their speed and skill with the ball.
“Our speed’s pretty good,” Schnackenberg said. “We definitely have people that can handle the soccer ball. Kinda fun to watch today.”
In goal this season will be Selig, the returning goalie from last season.
“Looking good,” Schnackenberg said. “Getting pushed a little by Wyatt (Whisenhunt), a junior, and we have a freshman goalie coming in, Kayden Wood. We’ve got a really good goalie corp. Again, they’ve been working hard.”
The boys soccer program — like the girls program — seems to be in healthy shape.
“We’ve had a lot of help from youth programs,” Schnackenberg said, “but that’s starting to show. The kids are starting to come on through.”
The Wildcats have used Lions Field for their home facility and their new field — unnamed yet — will be near the softball field and Neosho Junior High.
“We haven’t used it yet,” Schnackenberg said. “We’re supposed to use it the 28th against Joplin. This weather hasn’t been real favorable for it, but we will see what happens. The grade’s there, everything’s ready to go, all we’ve got to do is to get that grass to thicken up and we’re working on that. Got the sprinkler system in and everything’s looking good.
“We’d love to (debut the new field against Joplin). That would be a good match for us to start out with against Joplin and open the field. It will be an exciting night.”
The Joplin match only starts a difficult schedule and in fact, the very night after Neosho hosts Joplin, the Wildcats must travel to Carthage to play the perennial Central Ozark Conference Large and Class 3 powers.
Neosho opens at home, but the Wildcats then do not return home until September 19 against Branson — Carthage, Nixa, the Parkview Tournament, Carl Junction, and Republic all come outside the Wildcats’ friendly confines.
“It’s a good start to the season for us,” Schnackenberg said. “Joplin’s here, but the other two (Carthage, Nixa) are away.”
The Wildcats have been known to start out a little slow and then pick it up toward the Joplin Tournament on forward through the back end of the regular season.

No.   Player    Grade    Pos.
00    Kayden Wood        9    GK
1    Jared Scribner        12    D
2    Jason Roponei        9    D
5    Etian Pupo        10    M
6    Jarron Crawford        11    D
7    Diego Vargas        9    F
8    Brayden Johnson        11    D
9    Lakin House        11              M/F
10    Yahir Ruiz        10    M
11    Hunter Gilliam        12    M
13    Matias Ruiz        12    M
15    Ryder Schneckenberg    10    M
16    Bryan Perez        11    F/M
17    Connor Brooks        12    D
19    Carlos Estrada        9              M
20    Oscar Lumas        12    D/M
21    Cesar Piediasanta    11    M
23    Angel Alvarado        11    D/M
25    Dastin Nacinos        11    D/M
28    Wyatt Whisenhunt    11    GK
30    Hank Selig        12    GK
Head coach: Steve Schnackenberg
Assistant: Dustin Hill

Aug. 28 — vs. Joplin
Aug. 29 — at Carthage
Sept. 7 — at Nixa
Sept. 8-9 — Parkview Tournament
Sept. 13 — at Carl Junction
Sept. 14 — at Republic
Sept. 19 — vs. Branson
Sept. 21-23 — Willard Tournament
Sept. 21 — vs. McDonald County
Sept. 26 — vs. Webb City
Sept. 28-30 — Joplin Tournament
Oct. 3 — at Ozark
Oct. 5 — vs. Cassville
Oct. 10 — vs. Willard
Oct. 12 — at Monett, vs. College Heights
Oct. 17 — at Parkview