BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — When Maumee’s boys soccer season came to an end after a district championship loss to Central Catholic on October 25, so did the high school career of one of the best players in school history in Braden Wagener.
The son of Brandon and Colette Wagener and four-year varsity player for the Panthers, Wagener finished with 82 goals and 49 assists.
“I’ve coached three or four high school teams, I’ve been at Pacesetter four years and I’ve seen kids come in and out of the system at Pacesetter that go on to college,” said Maumee boys soccer coach Chad Kain.
“Braden, in my opinion, is one of the smoothest soccer players I’ve had the pleasure to coach. Just to watch him and the things he can do amazes me. It was a pleasure for me to get to go on his senior journey and the ride.”
He wrapped things up as a four-time Northern Lakes League and district player and added first-team All-Ohio honors to his resume following his senior season.
All-Ohio honors are nothing new for the Wagener family, however, as two of Braden’s older cousins – former Maumee Panther Alex Wagener and former St. Francis Knight Colin Clarke – also previously earned that distinction.
Wagener began playing soccer for the Maumee Youth Soccer Association when he was just 3 years old and continued playing with MYSA until the age of 10.
During that time, he also began playing for coach Robert Perez’ Express team when he was 7 and moved to coach Andrew Olnhausen’s Express team at the age of 9.
Two years after that, Doug Everhart took over the team’s coaching duties and Wagener went on to play for him on his Express team, multiple other summer league teams and the Maumee High School varsity team until the beloved coach’s timely death toward the end of the 2017 season.
“It’s amazing to me that he’s never played any type of travel club soccer, whether it be Pacesetter, Celtic or anywhere like that,” Kain said. “He’s basically just kind of a homegrown Maumee boy that played a little bit of club ball here and a little bit of summer league.
“To have the skill and the touch that he does, in my opinion, just shows the dedication and the work he’s done individually to get to where he is. Having Doug as a coach that whole time had a lot to do with it as well, but to be as smooth as he is with the ball – you can teach – but ultimately, at the end of the day, he’s definitely put the work in to get where he is.”
During Wagener’s time at Maumee, the Panthers compiled an overall record of 40-29. The team made it to the sectional finals during his freshman year and played in the district championship game in each of his last three seasons.
“Being able to play for Doug most of my soccer career is something I will never take for granted,” Wagener said.
Wagener played opposite current Maumee assistant coach Hunter Thomasson during his first two high school seasons. Thomasson was a first-team selection on both the NLL and district teams over that stretch.
“Playing alongside Hunter really complemented my game, which helped me improve tremendously,” Wagener said. “We played very different style games, but we meshed together very well.”
Wagener earned third-team NLL honors and received honorable mention from the district as a freshman after scoring seven goals and assisting on seven more.
He followed that up with second-team accolades from both the NLL and the district after a sophomore season in which he scored 11 goals and assisted on nine more.
By the time Wagener was a junior, he took over as Maumee’s player that saw the most attention from opposing teams’ defenses.
“Being one of the main threats forced me to be able to facilitate the ball, which made me a much more versatile player,” he said.
The result was a huge uptick in both goals (26) and assists (15), which resulted in second-team NLL and first-team district honors.
After then-assistant Chris West coached the team through the last few games of his junior campaign, Wagener and his teammates welcomed a new varsity head coach this fall in Kain.
Wagener and the Panthers compiled Maumee’s best boys soccer season in 13 years under Coach Kain.
The team posted an overall record of 13-6-1 and an NLL mark of 3-4.
“Our success the past few years came from great leadership and coaching,” Wagener said. “Between Coach Kain, Doug and Coach West, they really stressed hard work and a fast-paced style of game, which put us over the edge on some of our competition.”
For his part, Wagener racked up 38 goals and 18 assists as a senior.
“Braden is a leader on the field,” Kain said. “He doesn’t say a whole lot. He just leads by example. He’s very unselfish. There were games we were up 5, 6, 7, 8, 9-0 and I would take him out or put him in the back on defense to give guys a break.
“The kid never said, ‘Hey I want to go back out front. I want to score some more goals.’
“It wasn’t about the Braden Wagener show. It was about the team and what worked best for the team. I give him a lot of credit for that. He scored 38 goals this year. He probably could have had 60, but he never said anything about it.
“He goes about his business. You never see him talk back to a referee. He respects the game. There were plenty of times he was hacked, whacked and fouled, but you never saw him get up and throw a fit. He’s just a good kid.”
Not surprisingly, Wagener deflected some of that praise back onto his coach.
“Coach Kain put me in a position of success by making me the main target of the team and letting me have a lot more freedom than others,” he said. “I am beyond appreciative of what he came in and did with this team.”
In addition to Wagener, this year’s team featured two other four-year varsity members in midfielders Sam LaChapelle and Kyle Robinson.
LaChapelle earned third-team NLL honors once, second-team district honors once and twice more received honorable mention from the district as a sweeper during his first three seasons.
He made second-team NLL and district as a senior midfielder after scoring 10 goals and assisting on seven more.
Robinson totaled 26 goals and 38 assists. He earned third-team NLL and second-team district honors and also received honorable mention from the district over his career.
Third-year seniors included forward Tyler Nayfack and defenders Konner Byers and Adam Diegel.
Nayfack totaled 24 goals and 32 assists and made third-team NLL and second-team district and also received honorable mention from the district during his career.
“I started playing with Sam and Adam in about 2010,” Wagener said. “Kyle and Tyler joined in the fall of 2011. Being able to play with the guys for such a long time helped our chemistry, which showed throughout our careers.”
Unfortunately, Nayfack was unable to play in this year’s district championship game due to a fracture in his hip and Robinson played injured.
“I definitely believe if we were healthy we would’ve competed for a regional title,” Wagener said. “I definitely appreciate all the awards and honors I have received, but I would not have earned them if it weren’t for my teammates or coaches. They have obviously helped me more than I could ask for.”
Wagener currently carries a nifty 3.2 GPA and plans to attend college and study finance. He said he was still deciding on continuing his soccer career.
“This week I’ve been on eight or nine phone calls to colleges for our seniors,” Kain said. “The coaches have been reaching out and one thing I’ve said to them about Braden is, ‘Not only is he a good kid, but he’s a great student. Think about what he’s done on the field and remember that he probably only played half the game up top.’ He’s definitely going to have four or five schools to choose from.”
Wagener went on to credit his parents as being the biggest influences in his life thus far.
“Especially my mother,” he added. “She worked very hard to make me able to use both feet.”
With him being one of the best soccer players in school history, Wagener was asked what he would like his legacy to be at Maumee.
“This is hard to answer since I just finished my final season,” he said, “but I want to be remembered as a good teammate who had a love and passion for the game.”