CHIPPEWA FALLS — Speed can kill on the soccer field.
There are examples everywhere: a winger who can knock the ball past a defender and beat him in a footrace to slip behind the opponent’s back line, or a defender capable of chasing down long balls over the midfield to snuff out a scoring chance.
Sprinkle some technique and soccer IQ into the mix, and the results can be mightily impressive. Menomonie has had the chance to witness that firsthand this year. Senior captain Adam Wilson is in the midst of an outstanding season, powered by his striking combination of skill and speed.
Wilson, a forward, is second among the greater Eau Claire area’s goal-scoring leaders at this juncture in the season. He has scored nine goals through Menomonie’s first 13 games, in addition to tallying 10 assists.
Only Eau Claire North’s Logan Podolak, who has found the back of the net 10 times, has scored more goals in the area this year.
Few things — if any — stand out more about Wilson’s game than his speed and quickness. It’s no secret, and it has led to plenty of his goals already.
“Most of my goals come from beating guys on the outside, or outpacing them to the ball,” Wilson said after last Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Chippewa Falls.
His ability to beat opponents to the ball was evident in that win, when he scored the Mustangs’ third goal by breaking away from a defender in a dead sprint for a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper.
As has been the norm this season, he converted the chance into a goal for the Mustangs.
“He’s creative, he’s got incredible foot skill, and then that speed,” Menomonie coach Meagan Frank said. “It’s just so hard to slow somebody down who can do amazing things at full speed on the ball.”
Wilson has thrived on good support from the midfield this season, as through balls into the heart of the defense have been routinely converted into goals thanks to his blistering speed.
Given his assist record, it’s no surprise that scoring goals isn’t the only thing on his mind when he’s sprinting after a long pass toward goal. He sees himself in a uniquely influential role, somewhere between a pure goal-scorer and a playmaker who fashions opportunities for others.
In soccer, the No. 10 jersey is usually saved for that type of playmaker. Unsurprisingly, that’s the number Wilson dons when he takes the field for the Mustangs.
“If it’s a one-on-one with a keeper, I’ll definitely look for a shot on goal, but if there’s guys around me to hold the ball and move around, I’ll look for the assist,” Wilson said.
The senior has already surpassed his six-goal total from last year despite being only about two-thirds of the way through the regular season.
That comes as a bit of a surprise even to him, even though he paid his dues in offseason training.
“I was expecting a better year (than 2017), but I wasn’t really expecting so much,” he said.
His improvement has been a harbinger for Menomonie’s improvement as a team. The Mustangs picked up their first Big Rivers Conference win in six years when they defeated Chippewa Falls, and have one of their highest win totals in the last few years. Menomonie has won six games this season.
Wilson has been a driving force behind Menomonie’s success, but he hasn’t done it alone. The team has gotten better across the board, and is starting to turn a few heads as a result.
“(Wilson) is an amazing playmaker, and thankfully there are people around him that are starting to finish the plays that he’s started,” Frank said.