Adam Klecker has a knack for kicking in goals.
The senior midfielder for the Brainerd Warriors led the boys’ soccer team last season with nine goals and two assists.
In Brainerd’s first three games of this season, he scored at least one goal and usually on a penalty kick. The three-year varsity member was prepared for any extra attention opposing defenses might be handing him.
“Sometimes you notice it,” Klecker said. “A lot of times in the first half they won’t really do anything, but in the second half they’ll always have a guy there.”
To combat the extra attention, Klecker hit the weight room during the off-season and attended a few college camps. He said that has helped him play the ball quicker and improved his vision. He said he’s seeing the field better this year than in years past.
“I’ve just gotten a lot more confident and you can tell from my sophomore year,” Klecker said. “I didn’t start my sophomore year, but I realized I could play with these guys. It’s just been up from then.”
Brainerd head coach Tom Grausam said opposing teams know exactly who Adam Klecker is.
“They see him,” Grausam added. “They try to stop him, but the thing is when you have good teammates it’s pretty hard to stop any individual unless you’re going to play him man-to-man, but we haven’t seen that yet.”
"I’m always confident for them. You can’t be nervous about it otherwise you will miss.”
— Adam Klecker, on taking a penalty kick
Through Brainerd’s first 11 games, Klecker has 12 goals. He opened last week with a four-goal performance in the Warriors’ 5-0 shutout of Fergus Falls Tuesday, Sept. 21. Klecker scored two goals in each period. That was followed by a one-goal performance Saturday, Sept. 25, in a 3-0 win over Bemidji.
“The Fergus win just gave us a lot of confidence for the next game and the rest of the season,” Klecker said. “We played really well and moved the ball around really well. We just got a lot of confidence off of that game.
“Then the Bemidji game was good. We just kept the same game plan and kept moving the ball around. Nick Holmberg played really well. It was probably his best game of the season. He scored two really good goals.”
Klecker added an insurance goal in the second half of the Warriors’ 3-1 victory over the Rocori Spartans Monday. The victory pushed Brainerd over .500 with a 5-4-2 overall record. It also moved Brainerd’s conference record to 2-2-2.
“Our goal for this year is we wanted to make state and I think we still can,” Klecker said. “We want to have a winning record and get scored on less than 10 times.
“We only had three returning variety players, I think, and a lot of us played together in the summer leagues and stuff and we’re all really good friends. We can hang out and talk to each other whenever we want. We all get along and we all play really well together.”
Grausam said as a coaching staff he and his assistant coaches are still working on figuring out the identity of this young team.
“We’re trying to figure out where our strongest team is,” Grausam said. “We’re getting into that section mode. That’s what we’re thinking about and that’s what we’re going for. We are a young team and inexperienced when it comes to varsity soccer, but they have a lot of talent and they can go places. They just have to believe in themselves and play together.”
Klecker scored two goals in a 2-1 victory over Elk River Sept. 11 before falling to St. Michael-Albertville 3-2. Klecker’s first goal came on a penalty kick. It was his fourth penalty-kick goal of the season.
In a 1-1 tie with St. Cloud Tech, a Klecker penalty kick handed Brainerd an early lead in the overtime frame before Tech tied the score.
“A lot of my goals have been (penalty kicks) and most of my goals are just crashing the net and being in the right place at the right time for an easy tap in,” he said. “On PKs, I usually shoot bottom right, but sometimes if I see the goalie moving to one side I’ll just kick it to the other side.
“I’m always confident for them. You can’t be nervous about it otherwise you will miss.”
Grausam said it takes a lot of mental skill and belief in one’s self to be a clutch penalty kick scorer. The coach said coupled with Klecker’s confidence, his vision, speed and foot skills are what make him such a prolific scorer.
“I always preach that this is a team sport and we’re a family,” Grausam said. “We support each other and Adam is a great supporter of our wings and our top of the offense. Overall, it’s nice to see other kids step up because with high school sports you just never know who is going to have an on-day or an off-day. It’s nice that we can trust everybody on our team to step up and motivate the other players. Adam isn’t a very vocal guy, but the work ethic he displays, the confidence he displays, he’s a good leader. He demonstrates it. He’s a great individual. He has a lot of experience and he’s going to have a great future as he continues on in college.”
Klecker scored a penalty kick in Brainerd’s 3-1 loss to Moorhead. He tallied two goals against Buffalo, including the game-winning penalty kick for the Warriors who won 4-3.
Through the first seven games, Brainerd found itself with a 2-3-2 record. Brainerd has now won three of its last four and expectations are still high.
“If we’re playing our system really well I would say we can beat any team,” Klecker said. “It just depends on the day. A lot of times we’ll show up and play really well. That’s great, but we have to do it for every game.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Other notable performances
Kate Stadum, volleyball, finished with 54 kills, 44 digs, 12 blocks and seven ace serves in two matches and a tournament last week.
Thomas Ruhl, cross-country, finished second at the Rey Zimney Pierz Stampede with a 17:02.3.
Peyton LeMieur, girls soccer, recorded six saves for a shutout against Alexandria.
Meghan Smith, volleyball, finished with 16 kills, 13 digs and four ace serves against Fergus Falls and added 37 kills, 24 digs, five blocks and an ace serve at the Duluth East Tournament.
Eli Hoelz, football, finished with five receptions for 124 yards against Bemidji.
Lacy Busch, tennis, finished the week 5-0 to improve her record to 18-0.
Brynne Folden-Lila Collins, tennis, finished the week 5-0.
Lindsy Busch-Ericah Folden, tennis, finished the week 5-0.
Paige Yeager, girls soccer, scored two goals against Bemidji.
Nick Holmberg, boys soccer, scored two goals against Bemidji.
Sport: Boys soccer
Position: Center attacking midfield
Career highlight: Getting called up as a freshman to play in the Section 8-2A Tournament
Grade-point average: 4.1
Favorite class: Human biology
Favorite food: Caramel rolls
Favorite movie: “Happy Gilmore”
Favorite TV show: “The 100”
Favorite website or app: TikTok
Favorite restaurant: Chipotle
Future plans: To attend college and play soccer
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo
Parents: Michelle and Jayme Klecker