There were few teams that entered the 2020 season with expectations higher than Mattawan boys soccer.
The Wildcats are coming off a season where they reached the division two semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Forest Hills Northern. They return 12 seniors from last year's semifinal squad in hopes of doing what the 2016 team did: win a state championship.
The team's 2020 season started with an early bump in the road after a 2-1 loss to Portage Central. Head coach Kirt Brown said his guys got outworked in the loss and hopes they learn from it.
"I would say maybe revealing. I told the guys a dozen times if I've told them once hard works beats talent when talent doesn't work hard and Portage Central worked their hind ends off they deserve to win we didn't finish. I think it's key in us moving forward and knowing how important it is that where connected as a group and we're playing hard together," Brown said.
Senior midfielder Connor Burkett entered the season with hopes of following in his older brother, Dylan's footsteps who was a part of the 2016 state championship team and that early season stumble could be a valuable lesson for a deep run.
"It definitely opened our eyes a lot after coming off a big win. The Tuesday before we were pretty confident. I think that game definitely humbled us and helped us stay on track and not get too ahead of ourselves," Burkett said.
The Wildcats were able to bounce back against St. Joe with a 3-0 shutout of the Bears. Proving they can quickly turn the page after a loss. Senior forward Josh Filiputti wants to avoid another set back as they work towards their ultimate goal.
"Just not have another game like PC. [Our goal is] to get as far as we can and try and win a state championship," Filiputti said.
With a ton of leadership and experience returning, the Wildcats are confident that the bumps in the road to a state title will be limited.
"If they work our I've told them numerous times is the team that can beat them is themselves and I mean that with respect to our opponents, because they have a major say if they work hard like PC a lot of teams can give us a hard time, but I'm confident in the group that we have," Brown said.