Sean Henggeler started his high school sports career as a golfer. But before his junior year, he was persuaded to give soccer a try.
Martin boys soccer coach Brady Cagle and Henggeler’s Warriors teammates agree that Henggeler’s move was the right one. For the second consecutive season, he is the team’s leading scorer, with seven goals before Tuesday’s District 4-6A opener at rival Lamar.
“I’ve just always liked soccer,” said Henggeler, a senior who still plays on the golf team. “I had a few friends that convinced me to play. It’s really the best decision I’ve made.”
In his first varsity season, Henggeler led a balanced attack that featured 11 players who scored at least one goal. It’s a similarly balanced offense this time around.
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“It was disbursed pretty evenly,” Cagle said of last season’s scoring output. “Sean still led the team in goals, but it wasn’t by a huge margin over anybody else.”
Maybe there’s no dominant scorer, but it’s clear who Martin players are looking to for creating scoring opportunities. “He’s the guy you get the ball to when you’re attacking,” senior Trey Tuttle said. “You see Sean open, you give him the ball.”
Tuttle, a versatile player, sees action at center back, midfield and, well, almost any position on the pitch. “I just like to get out there, hit a few guys, raise some destruction, make them not be on their game, kind of disrupt what they’re trying to do,” Tuttle said.
The Warriors disrupted a lot of teams last season. That Martin squad won a district title and reached the third round of the playoffs. This time around, Tuttle, Henggeler and captains Andre Anasi and Zach Riley, both midfielders, lead a group of 14 seniors. That level of experience has Martin confident that it can defend its district title and progress deeper into the playoffs than in 2014.
“I think we’re on track to getting close where we want to be attacking-wise, going forward with the ball,” Anasi said. “I would say we’re a hardworking team. We play pretty fast and we keep the ball first and look for opportunities.”
There’s been plenty of opportunities so far. The Warriors went 4-1-2 in nondistrict play and reached the championship game of the recent Martin Invitational Tournament against Grand Prairie, losing 2-1 to the undefeated Gophers.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted in the tournament championship,” Riley said. “But it was definitely a learning experience, and all our players got reps in that game. If we came out guns hot, I definitely think we would’ve won that game. … Going forward into the season, you’ve got to make sure everyone’s able to play under that sort of pressure.”
After losing three key defensive players, including centerback Alex Lane, to graduation, Martin figured to struggle a bit defensively. But that hasn’t been the case. One of the reasons for the sold defense has been the emergence of sophomore Wesley Williams in Lane’s old position.
“That’s what I thought was going to be the problem,” Henggeler said. “But they actually filled in really well and are playing good defense now. … I think the whole team is pretty solid now. So there’s no excuses.”