Marquette Catholic’s Zach Weinman and Alton’s Eric Ferenbach found their niches in 2015 — scoring goals.
Weinman booted 23 goals, while Ferenbach tallied 18 despite missing two stints with injuries. That scoring punch earned the duo the AdVantage News Co-Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year award.
Weinman and his Explorers had an outstanding season. Marquette advanced to the Class 2A Columbia Sectional finals, posting a 14-7-3 record overall. The Explorers beat Jacksonville, Chatham Glenwood and Columbia before bowing to Waterloo. Waterloo won the 2A state championship.
Weinman was a key contributor to that success. The junior had a total of 54 points, with 8 assists to go with those 23 goals. He also had a team-high 5 game-winning goals.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the whole team, because they all played hard,” the junior Weinman said. “We scored a lot.”
His biggest game winner came in the opening round of the 2A Jacksonville Regional. Weinman booted the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the host Crimsons.
“I was just sitting up top by the 18-yard box and it just came out to my foot and I tried to get a shot off,” Weinman said. “Somehow it got through; I think it was deflected by one of their defenders and got in.
“That first goal in that first playoff game really gave us a lot of intensity to keep playing and have a chance to win.”
Weinman gave a lot of credit to the Marquette defense, sparked by senior goalie Brandon Sanfilippo and senior defenseman Adam Johnes, for the playoff run.
“(The defense) played great, especially in the playoffs,” Weinman said. “They played great all year, but they really stepped it up in the playoffs and got shutouts the first two games and then held Columbia to one goal.”
With a year to spare, Weinman thinks the confidence and experience he gained in ‘15 will assist in his success as a senior.
“I got a lot of confidence because it was such a good year,” Weinman said. “I’m looking forward to next year and trying to do the same thing next year and maybe get some more playoff wins.”
As for Ferenbach, he saw his Alton career conclude in a 3-1 loss to Quincy to open the Class 3A Quincy Regional. AHS finished the season 9-10-3. The Blue Devils went on to finish second in the state.
The buzz surrounding Ferenbach’s scoring prowess came right out of the gates on the season.
“I started hot, I guess. I had five goals in the first two games,” Ferenbach said. “It was hard because I had a couple injuries, too, but I think there were only two games I played in where I didn’t score.”
A shoulder injury sidelined Ferenbach midseason and an ankle injury suffered against Jersey on Oct. 5 kept him out of the final four games of the regular season.
Through all that, he finished with 18 goals and 3 assists for a team-best 39 points.
He credits getting faster to his improvement. He had 8 goals in 2014.
“I worked on a lot of speed stuff in the offseason, so that became a big part of my game,” Ferenbach said. “I wasn’t usually the fastest player, but this year I thought I was a lot faster.”
His most memorable goal came against Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville. On Oct. 1 the Redbirds beat the Tigers 1-0 behind Ferenbach’s tally. It proved to be their last win of the season.
“I had a couple opportunities I should have finished,” Ferenbach said. “It was a defensive game. There weren’t many chances and I just got a good chance inside the box and put it away.”
Now he’s turning his attention to college. SIUE and Embry-Riddle University in Florida are the leading candidates to attain his soccer skills.
“One of the SIUE coaches (Scott Gyllenborg) was my club coach this year, so I’ve been talking to him and then I’m going to Embry-Riddle in a couple weeks to talk to them,” he said. “That’s the school I’d really like to play for. It’s pretty much between those two schools playing soccer.”