Boys varsity soccer finishes adversity-filled season 4-10

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After a 10-7-4 record in the 2019-2020 season, the boys varsity soccer team came back for revenge in an adversity-plagued series of games. Despite not knowing whether or not they would have a season, this year’s team battled hard in the preseason in order to be ready for what was to come. With the season in the air, they had tryouts and played practice in social distancing fashion, while still competing day in and day out. On August 21, Governor Whitmer allowed the continuation of soccer and other fall sport practices; it wasn’t until a few weeks following that the boys were able to compete. Once the action was passed, the boys were up and ready to face off against their highly competitive schedule.

“I was really happy to get the opportunity to actually be able to play my senior year,” senior Jaden Talley said. “When the order was passed, I was super excited to just get out on the pitch with my teammates.”

The team started out the season excited, as they began their adventurous next few months in a match against Lowell at the Red Arrows’ home field. With a team centered around their young talent, the Rangers struggled early on. Their only seniors were Jaden, Matthew Mahoney, and Mason Corcoran. These three combined for a crucial chunk of the success in this game and throughout the season. Even though the Rangers lost 2-1, they learned the cruciality of teamwork in this first game. Sophomore Noah Gleason shined on offense in this one and throughout the season, scoring the only goal against the Red Arrows, while also being the top scorer on the team.

The Rangers then faced off against a forever solid EGR team whom defeated them on their own turf 3-0. This night was particularly special for the boys, as it was their senior night which spotlighted their few upperclassmen, and gave the boys a unique experience.

“It was definitely a fun game but an overall tough loss,” Mason said. “I was just happy to play with my fellow seniors and teammates, especially with having the possibility of not playing at all.”

After the loss to EGR, the boys suffered two more losses in impressive performances against number one ranked Grand Rapids Christian and a tough Northview squad 2-1 and 4-1 respectively. Against the Eagles, FHC played one of it’s best games of the season, but unfortunately dropped it after two late goals from GRC.

After a tough 0-4 start to the season, the Rangers got their first win against a non-conference West Ottawa squad 2-1. This game was in thanks to the ever persisting defense led by Mason, Matthew, and junior Ryan Fitzgerald. These three collaborated to create a wall in this game, along with in many other instances throughout the season such as Portage Central and Greenville, whom the boys beat 2-0 in both matches. Scoring against Portage was freshman Roman Brummel and sophomore Omar Hadzimujic. These two produced a multitude of chances for the Ranger offense and combined for close to half of the goals as well. Against Greenville, junior forward Sam Yeager scored his first goal of the season, followed by Noah scoring the second, securing the win.

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t quite trust each other to finish and make the right plays, which was a huge flaw,” Omar said. “As the season progressed, though, we trusted each other more and more with our offense firing and playing really smooth. Our midfield and defense found open guys, which created chances for some nice shots down the stretch as well.”

For their last regular season match of the year, the boys faced off against a very talented South Christian squad, who has been seen in many playoff appearances in the last few years. In this one, the Rangers started off firing on all cylinders, until a surge of injuries crept their way. Jaden Talley ended up cramping late in the second half, along with sophomore Andrew Novay, whom also felt the cold conditions and struggled throughout the remainder of the game. Despite the 3-0 loss, the boys played strong and hard which played a key role in the upcoming games.

In the first round of the OK White Conference Tournament, the Rangers faced EGR, whom they fell to 4-0. The following game was yet another 4-0 loss to Byron Center, which was a turning point for the boys. Although it was late, they knew that these next two or so games would be crucial to their season and changed their mentality.

“The major turning point was definitely the loss to Byron Center,” head coach Paul Kramer said. “The boys knew they were better than that result. Giving up easy goals and not capitalizing ruined their chances in this one. Because of this, their focus changed in every aspect, which is what allowed us to compete hard and smart in the next two games.”

In the third and final round of the conference tournament, FHC played Greenville in the middle of a fall storm surge. The game was finalized shortly after halftime due to an influx of hail and lightning. Luckily for the Rangers, the score ended 2-1, which secured their second to last placement in the OK White.

In the first round of districts, the boys were sent off by a 3-2 loss to Holt. After a 1-1 tie in regulation, the game went to OT in which both teams scored one goal to force it to a penalty shootout. Having the number one goalie in the state of Michigan, the Rams were confident in this one. The Rangers didn’t back down, though, as they put 3 shots in the back of the net. The Rams topped them by one goal, as they finished out the game with a 3-2 win and moved onto the next game of the playoffs.

“The consistency of play for 100 minutes was phenomenal,” Kramer said. “It is what we had been working for all season, even though it took a little longer than expected. Nonetheless, the boys achieved it and played their hearts out to finalize our season.”

Despite finishing 4-10, the boys varsity soccer team had a dramatic and very exciting season. With all but three players returning, the future looks bright for the next seasons of Rangers boys soccer.