After 17 years of coaching, Minneapolis Southwest’s Jamie Plaisance calls Zach Neiberger the most valuable player he’s ever coached.
“Zach is the epitome of value on the soccer field. He dominates the middle of the field, he is a dangerous attacking force, and he shuts down opponents as a defensive center [midfielder],” Plaisance said.
Only one team scored more than one goal in a game against Southwest this season. Despite several rematches, no player scored more than one goal against Neiberger and the Lakers. Within his offensive numbers — 11 goals, seven assists — seven of his goals have been game-winners.
Neiberger shines most in his ability to control the game’s tempo and disrupt opposing game plans, coaches from around the state said. Only the third four-year starter in Plaisance’s tenure, he has been part of the most victories of any player in Southwest program history. He also helped guide the Lakers to a second-place finish in state as a freshman and third place a sophomore. Neiberger has guided the team back to state this season and into the national high school polls. Southwest is No. 4 in the Upper Midwest rankings and No. 32 in the nation. Neiberger is the first player in program history to play and start for three state tournament teams.
Neiberger’s look at the season:
Standout game: One of our first games of the season against Eastview at home. Coming out with a 3-1 victory and having two goals was a great early confidence-builder with them being the defending state champions and having another very strong team this year.
Favorite memory of the season: Definitely the section final vs. Wayzata. They went into halftime with a 2-0 advantage and we ended up scoring three in the second half to win.
What did you do differently to make your season so successful? My preparation for the season. Playing every day in the summer and doing extra work besides just what club offered.
Pregame routine: Watching Ronaldinho [Brazilian soccer star] highlight videos and listening to music.
Biggest challenge of the season: Not becoming complacent and coming back from our [1-0, midseason] loss against Washburn.
Biggest surprise of the season: Grinding out wins when we weren’t playing our best soccer, and the amount of players that have stepped up to help our team be successful.