New Berlin West strives to do Dillett proud
Soccer squad dedicates 10-3 record, hard-fought season to their late coach
New Berlin — Fans attending New Berlin West soccer games this fall are greeted by a sign standing just a few yards away from the main entrance.
That sign, in the school's blue color and with the familiar Vikings logo embossed on each side, reads "New Berlin West Dillett Memorial Soccer Complex, In Honor of Mike Dillett."
The renamed field salutes the former West boys and girls soccer coach, who died in December of a brain disease.
Dillett is still certainly on the minds of this year's players, who have dedicated the season to him and are doing him proud with a 10-3 record going into this week.
"Before every game, we remember who we are playing for," said senior captain Bryan Franzen. "We are playing in honor of coach Dillett."
Senior captain Charlie Duff, the Vikings' leading scorer with eight goals and 18 points (tied with senior Hlu Vang) entering this week, echoed those sentiments.
"We want to honor him," Duff said. "He would be so proud of us. This is our time to do it for Mike."
Big shoes to fill
Franzen and Duff, who both played under Dillett for multiple seasons, held him in high regard.
"He could connect with all his players," Franzen said. "We always had fun in practice and he created a good atmosphere."
Duff added, "He had such a strong commitment to the system and to the school. He was a nice guy and a great coach. It was sad that he had to die so young. It was heartbreaking, so unexpected."
Ryan Otten had the difficult job of taking over for Dillett, first with the girls team in spring and now with the boys squad in fall.
"When I took the girls job, I knew I had big shoes to fill," Otten said.
Otten knew just what he had to do.
"I didn't want to do things just like Mike did," he said, "but I wanted to do it in his honor. He ran a classy program and was a well-respected person in the soccer community and in the New Berlin community. His teams played hard, worked hard and did things the right way. I wanted to do the same thing."
His girls team posted a 12-10-1 record, earned a share of second place in the Woodland Conference and reached a WIAA sectional semifinal game, which it lost in a shoot-out.
"Halfway through the girls season," Otten said, "(Athletic Director) Jeridon Clark came up to me and said he thought I was doing a nice job. He asked if I would be interested in continuing with the boys program."
He took the job and became part of an emotional scene Aug. 20 at the first home game, when the field was renamed for Dillett.
"The kids still talk about him from time to time," Otten said. "The girls wore his 'MD' initials on their uniforms, and the boys wear them on their spirit wear. They often think of Mike and what he meant to them. They saw him as a father figure. He dedicated his time and effort to make players better on and off the field."
The Vikings started the season 6-0, then lost three of five games, including a dispiriting 3-0 defeat at the hands of South Milwaukee.
They bounced back and won both ends of a home quadrangular over the weekend to improve to 10-3. West was rated fifth in Division 2 the week of Sept. 12.
"We are so balanced," Otten said. "We have good goalkeeping, defense and midfield play, and a good attack. We don't have the one go-to guy, but they are all skillful and pass the ball around well."
Senior captain Colin Raupp is the goalkeeper and sports a 0.94 goals-against average.
"He is on top of his game," Otten said. "At 6 feet-4 inches and 215 pounds, he is a big figure back there. There is an intimidation factor."
Raupp is helped by a strong defense keyed by Franzen, senior Josh Lindner and juniors Max Harty, Perry Hels, Tyler Robey and Scott Franke.
Otten said, other than honoring Dillett, the Vikings have a clear goal this season.
"I went into the Field House, and saw the banner that said the school has just one conference championship in its history. We want to win the conference."
Duff is looking for big things too.
"This is one of the best teams we've had," he said. "We want to make as much as we can out of this."
New Berlin West is succeeding in part because of its balanced attack. Here are the team's leading scorers so far:
18 POINTS: Hlu Vang and Charlie Duff
16: Brock Shilling
13: Matt Rink
12: Bryan Franzen
9: Kevin Marx
7: Dino Poulos
SEPT. 13: Brock Shilling scored in the third minute (Dino Poulus assist) and Charlie Duff scored in the 17th minute (Shilling assist) en route to a 4-1 West victory over visiting Whitnall. … Hlu Vang (Josh Lindner assist) and Heng Vang added second-half goals. … "We have been playing inconsistent lately, and this shows in the final scores of games like this," West coach Ryan Otten said. "We dominate possession, but have struggled to link passes in the finishing third of the field. In an ideal world, we should be winning by a wider margin if we play the way we are capable of playing 100 percent. We continue to work toward this consistency each and every game, and as a coaching staff and team hope this happens before the playoffs begin."
SEPT. 15: The defending league champion South Milwaukee Rockets handed the Vikings a 3-0 road loss. … "It was a chance to prove to the conference and ourselves that we have a strong team," Otten said. "Unfortunately, we did not play at a high level, and South Milwaukee was a quality side. … It was a very humbling experience for our boys."
FRIDAY: In a matchup with previously unbeaten Osceola in the first round of the New Berlin West Quad, the host school tallied a pair of second-half goals - one each from Matt Rink (Kevin Marx assist) and Duff (Schilling assist) - and posted a 2-0 victory.
SATURDAY: Against Green Bay Notre Dame, a Division 2 honorable mention in the state rankings, West took a 2-0 lead into halftime on goals by Rink and Bryan Franzen (Shilling assisted both) and held on for a 3-2 win.
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