Soccer team expecting contributions from senior group and young players
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity boys soccer team from Grayling High School started practice last week, had two scrimmage games slated for this week, and has its regular season opener scheduled for next week.
It’s a young group this year. A lot of freshmen. The program also has several seniors and a few other returning players to form a roster that has a mix of experienced players and varsity newcomers.
“We are young,” Coach Brad Wagner said. “I am actually really excited about this year. We have six really strong seniors, really good players.”
Coach Wagner said the squad is relying on its experienced core of seniors to “set the pace for the big freshman class.”
Coach Wagner said this year’s team will need contributions from its young players, and he’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far in practices and during offseason activities.
“Some really strong play from the freshmen already,” Coach Wagner said. “Some of our freshmen move really well away from the ball, and some of our freshmen are very creative.”
Coach Wagner cited “senior leadership” as one of the squad’s strengths.
The team’s offseason work – open soccer sessions, a team camp, and other conditioning workouts – helped the squad transition well into the first official practice sessions of the 2017 season, Coach Wagner said.
“Really good amount of involvement throughout the summer,” Coach Wagner said.
The Vikings participated in a team camp at Oakland that included instruction and games, giving the players exposure to a “high level of soccer,” Coach Wagner said.
“We took more kids to team camp than we’ve ever taken,” Coach Wagner said.
Coach Wagner said the first day of practice for this year – Wednesday, August 9 – was “good” but the squad has a lot of work to do.
“We have to clean some things up. We’re still making some real fundamental mistakes. We’re trying to clean up those fundamentals,” Coach Wagner said.
Specifically, what are some of the keys to success for this year’s team?
“We have three,” Coach Wagner said. “Movement away from the ball. Solid fundamentals. On-field communication, communication across the board. I want other teams to be annoyed at how much we talk.”
The Vikings played in a scrimmage game against the Roscommon Bucks on Monday, August 14. The soccer team will host a scrimmage game vs. Ogemaw Heights at 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 17.
The soccer squad will open its 2017 regular season with five road games, starting with a nonconference contest at Ogemaw Heights on Thursday, August 24, at 4:30 p.m. The Vikings will then play at Houghton Lake, at Cheboygan, at Harbor Springs, and at Boyne City. The games against Harbor Springs and Boyne City are the squad’s first two Lake Michigan Conference matches of the 2017 season. During the second half of the season, in late September and early October, the Vikings have six straight home games on their schedule.