Cousins and longtime teammates are leading a promising St. Thomas Academy boys’ soccer team this fall.

John Henry Neuberger, whose father, Joe, played pro soccer with the now-defunct Minnesota Kicks, and first cousin Louis Holtz have been kicking a ball around since they were tykes. They followed the lead of Neuberger’s older brother and sister, who also gladly took up their father’s passion for the game.

“[John Henry] is the one that got me into it,” said Holtz, a junior. “They’re just crazy into soccer. His brother and sister are both really good, too.”

The two have been playing together ever since, and they play quite well. This season the Neuberger-Holtz cousin connection is generating plenty of scoring opportunities for the Cadets.

Neuberger, a senior, provides the service from the midfield position.

“He’s an all-around playmaker. He brings out the best in everyone,” Holtz said of Neuberger, who was all-state in Class 1A last year. “Every single play really always goes through him. He sets it all up.”

But Neuberger’s work wouldn’t look as pretty if not for his speedy cousin wreaking havoc ahead of him.

“It makes it very easy to play through-balls when I have the fastest forward in the state,” Neuberger said of Holtz. “He’s the fastest player I’ve ever seen. It’s been pretty fun to pretty much kick it anywhere. He’ll go get it and score a goal. He’s a huge asset to our team.”

Both Neuberger and Holtz have been playing in the summer for the Edina Soccer Club — both live in Edina — since they were 8 years old. They’ve enjoyed watching friends at Edina High School put together an impressive season in Class 2A. They want to similarly represent Class 1A.

The Cadets have played halfway through the season with only one loss through Tuesday. That defeat came at the hands of an ultra-talented North St. Paul squad, which has been consistently ranked as one of the top teams in Class 2A. In its own right, St. Thomas Academy has been creeping into the Class 1A state rankings.

Senior Zach Weier started the season at forward, but has since taken over the stopper position to help hold down the back end. Weier has won state championships with the Cadets’ hockey team, so he has the competitive attitude and experience the team wants.

Because, after all, that’s the goal.

“We decided at the preseason meeting that if we didn’t get to state this year, the season would not be a success,” Neuberger said. “That’s our goal, and we have our eyes on the prize.”

Holtz echoed his cousin and stressed that, with the team’s players this season and opportunity at hand, the time is now.

“This would really be our year to do it. We have a lot of juniors and seniors,” Holtz said. “And with [Neuberger] leaving — he’s the last one in his family, so it’s really important to him. This is the year to do it for sure.”