There was plenty of hardware collected by local soccer teams last fall.
Spring Lake won district and regional championships on its way to the Division 2 state finals. Grand Haven won a Division 1 district title, while Fruitport went undefeated in league play and took home the Lakes Eight Conference crown.
Will these teams be adding more hardware to the trophy cases this fall? There’s a very good chance the answer to that question is yes.
SPRING LAKE LAKERS
Twice in the last three years, the Lakers have played in the Division 2 state championship game.
With 10 starters back from last year’s runner-up squad, Spring Lake appears primed for another deep run into the state tournament.
But head coach Jeremy Thelen knows it takes more than talent to get to the promised land.
“We’re going to have a really talented squad, but what I’ve learned over the last couple years, with the boys team three years ago going to the state finals, last year going to the state finals — soccer’s a crapshoot,” Thelen said. “It’s how lucky you get at the right time.
“I really do think we have some great pieces to our team, but are we going to mold together? Are we going to build together? Are we hungry?”
Those are questions that will be answered in the coming weeks and months.
One thing’s for sure — the Lakers have all the right ingredients to build a champion.
GRAND HAVEN BUCCANEERS
Buccaneers’ head coach Aaron Dean lost a lot off last year’s team that won a Division 1 district championship.
Grand Haven returns just three starters off last year’s squad. That opens the door to many newcomers, including several seniors who didn’t see a lot of playing time on last year’s team.
“This is certainly a new group,” Dean said. “We graduated a core bunch of kids who had been on the varsity team for three years, so this is some significant turnover.”
The Bucs return twins Derek and Isaac Braak in the midfield, along with Christian Dault.
Dean is excited about the opportunity the turnover creates for many other players.
“For us, it’s pretty exciting what we’ve seen so far out of the kids who were juniors last year and have stepped into the roles they need to fill,” Dean said. “That’s one of the great things about high school sports is the development of those kids. They’ve stepped in and started acting like seniors. They’re taking over and setting a great example.”
Coming off a tremendous season in which the Trojans went unbeaten and claimed the Lakes Eight Conference championship, it’s going to be a whole new start for coach Greg Kobylak’s squad this fall.
“All but four players from last year’s team will fill different roles,” Kobylak said.
The Trojans return starters Noah Hendricks, Bryant Rebone, Conner Deenan, Nathan Sturtevant and Cameron Brandow.
Hendricks was the Trojans’ second-leading goal scorer last year, knocking in 15 goals to go with 11 assists.
“Noah will be a main focus of the attack,” Thelen said. “He is one of the best attacking players in the area.”
Kobylak noted that 2014 marks the 25th season of boys soccer at Fruitport. A celebration is planned for the evening of Oct. 4, with a game under the lights and various alumni activities taking place.”
WESTERN MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
The good news for WMC boys soccer team is that the Warriors boast a wealth of depth.
The bad news is that coach David Hulings had to cut some very good players at both the junior varsity and varsity levels for only the second time in the past 10 years.
“The last time we had to cut players, we were led to a state final because we had such a deep bench and were led by a very talented, experienced and hungry group of seniors. Let's hope that formula pays off again,” Hulings said.
The Warriors’ lineup includes 10 seniors that will lead the way through a tough conference and non-league schedule. Members of that senior class include Matt Vanderploeg, Tyler Cook, John Larson, Eric Bourdo, Jacob Ray and Eli Vandervelde, the team has a good balance of experience and talent on both sides of the field of play.
To read more of this story, see the print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.