Catholic Memorial’s Eric Brown is among several seniors returning to the team this season.
Freeman file photo
Crusaders ready for challenge
CMH coach expects usual battles in Classic 8
WAUKESHA — If you’re the smallest school competing in the mostly Division 1 Classic 8 Conference, you’re usually in big trouble.
But get outside of the conference and, well, let’s see.
If you’re the Catholic Memorial High School boys soccer team, you then get to compete in WIAA Division 2 state tournament series.
And the John Bisswurm coached Crusaders have advanced to the state tournament 10 times, winning one championship.
Bisswurm enters his 35th season as Memorial’s only soccer coach with a record that is simply gaudy: three state titles overall, including two in the now-defunct Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association, and 24 total state tournament appearances – eight of them in the last 11 seasons as a WIAA member.
His teams have had only one sub-.500 record and have amassed 473 victories.
So projecting how the team will perform this season is easy: The team will once again be highly competitive — its ranking in the Classic 8 notwithstanding.
Current Classic 8 teams have advanced to the state tournament seven straight years and 10 of the last 12 with Muskego the defending Division 1 state champion.
“We have a lot of starters to replace, six or seven, so we have a lot of holes to fill,” Bisswurm said. “We have to revamp our backline with senior graduations, but our young men are working hard and the sky’s the limit.
“In our conference, every night is a dogfight but I think we’ll be in the thick of a lot of games. I thought the Classic 8 was the best league in the state last season, and this year I think it has the potential to be the same.”
One of Bisswurm’s early concerns is, “Our possession game has to be better than it was last season.”
Arrowhead was the league champion last season, but league members Muskego and Kettle Moraine advanced to the state tournament.
Six of Memorial’s seven total losses last season were by a single goal.
Returning from that team are junior first-team all-conference midfielder Connor Alba, honorable-mention senior forward Eric Brown, senior midfielder Matt Morris, sophomore midfielder Lucas Morris and senior defender Jon Setzke.
The team will have one huge addition: sophomore goalkeeper Josh Balicki, who played for the Chicago Fire Academy club team last season. His father, Jon, and brother, Joel, played for Bisswurm and his mother, Julie, is also a CMH graduate.
Others returning and expected to be major contributors are: senior defender Will Dirksen, senior midfielder Liam Crain, senior forward Drew Kohler, junior midfielder Luiz Lima, junior midfielder Austin Uhl, junior defender Nick Davis and sophomore midfielder Charlie Huber.
Sophomore defender James Major is another player that Bisswurm says “is a special talent” and many players will be moving up from a junior varsity team Bisswurm labeled as “solid.”