2017-03-30 / Sports

Comets move on from Munoz era as Lakers, Norse reload

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

The Leland girls soccer team has some big cleats to fill this spring.

The Comets bring back eight starters from the team that finished 18-7 in 2016—a season marked by the recordsetting rampage from the state’s new career leader in goals, Libby Munoz, who amassed county highs with 64 goals and 15 assists as a senior.

Leland coach Joe Burda said Munoz and Katia Skarupinski, an all-county sweeper, will be tough to replace.

“It’s going to be different without Libby in there and Katia on the back end of the field,” Burda said of the graduates. “Those are positions we’ve had solidified for four years. The girls know it’s going to be different, but they are excited to fill what’s missing.

“There should be a lot of opportunity up front. I’m hoping girls have been hiding in the shadows of Libby and will have some breakout seasons.”

LELAND FORWARD Mollie Grishaw, pictured left in last year’s 8-0 district final loss at Elk Rapids, found the back of the net 19 times as a freshman. LELAND FORWARD Mollie Grishaw, pictured left in last year’s 8-0 district final loss at Elk Rapids, found the back of the net 19 times as a freshman. Key returners for the Comets include senior keeper Kira Metcalf, junior midfielder Rowan Wilson and sophomore forward Mollie Grishaw.

Grishaw, the team’s only all-county returner, is primed for a breakout season after finishing with 19 goals and 28 points as a freshman. Only one county player, Munoz, had more a year ago.

“I think we’ll be all right,” Burda said.

The Comets have finished first in the Greater Northwest Conference standings with 9-1 records in each of the last two seasons, although their southernmost county rivals have done the same.

Like Burda, Glen Lake coach Andy Smith is tasked with replacing two allcounty players this spring, midfielder Madison Alonzi and forward Alex LaCross, but he certainly has the talent to contend for another league title.

“We should be strong this year,” said Smith, whose Lakers finished 10-5 last year. “I don’t consider it much of a rebuilding year. We lost a couple key players but right now, with what we’ve seen in practice, we’ve got quite a few girls ready to fill in those positions.”

Smith enters the season with 22 girls on his roster, including three all-county returners: junior mid Allie Bonzelet, senior goalkeeper Stephanie Purifoy and senior forward Annabel Skrocki.

Bonzelet and Skrocki will lead the attack after finishing third and fifth in the county with 18 and 13 goals last season, respectively.

Smith said his lengthy list of key returners also includes senior mid Lili Kaastra and junior defender Noelle Alonzi, among others.

“One of our strengths is we have a lot of girls with technical skill,” Smith said. “We don’t have to work too much on fundamentals. Obviously we practice them every day, but we don’t really have to hone in on that. We can go to a bit of a deeper level with some of our players. We have eight freshmen, but so far what they’ve shown is that they’re able to contend for starting positions. It’ll be interesting to see how this team does.”

The same can be said of Suttons Bay, a team brimming with young talent.

Norse coach Tom Spencer, who expects to see between 28 and 31 names on his roster this spring, said he can’t wait to see what his team will do now that Northport has joined Suttons Bay and St. Mary in the cooperative program—which will be known as “North Bay United” in 2018.

So far, he likes what he sees.

“It’s a dream come true,” Spencer said.

He said the talent he’s seen on the practice pitch suggests Suttons Bay can compete with Glen Lake and Leland for the conference crown. Suttons Bay finished 10-12-1 overall and 6-4 in league play last year, losing all four conference games against county foes.

This year, however, the starting lineup will include representatives from Northport, St. Mary and Suttons Bay: senior defender Manmeet Dhami, junior goalie Joan Ogemaw and junior sweeper Sarah Reynolds of Northport; senior midfielder Haley Tarsa of St. Mary; and junior defender Ladida Cuellar, sophomore midfielder/forward Sydney Deadman and senior sweeper Kelsey Pease of Suttons Bay.

“We’ve got to figure out how to play soccer together,” Spencer said. “Good things have to happen, but the ingredients are there. I can’t emphasize how excited I am about the potential—and I have to stress potential, but I don’t see any weaknesses, and that’s unheard of in high school soccer.”

Deadman, who will also see time in net for the Norse, was the lone allcounty performer for the program last season. She finished with 14 goals, fourth most in the county.

Leland will kick off the 2017 campaign on the road Tuesday against the Traverse City West JV team; Suttons Bay will welcome Manistee for its opener on Thursday; Glen Lake will do the same against Manistee on Saturday.

2017 Schedules

4/8 vs Manistee 11 a.m.
4/10 @ Kingsley 5 p.m.
4/12 vs Suttons Bay 5 p.m.
4/15 @ Hart Tournament 9:30 a.m.
4/17 @ Benzie 5 p.m.
4/21 vs Alpena 5 p.m.
4/24 vs Leland 5 p.m.
4/26 vs Kingsley 5 p.m.
4/28 @ Charlevoix 5 p.m.
5/1 @ Suttons Bay 5 p.m.
5/3 vs Benzie 5 p.m.
5/5 vs St. Francis 5 p.m.
5/10 vs TC West JV 5 p.m.
5/13 @ Petoskey Tournament TBA
5/17 @ Elk Rapids 5 p.m.
5/19 @ Cadillac 5 p.m.
5/23 @ Leland 5 p.m.
5/25 vs Alumni (Parent Night) 5 p.m.

4/4 @ TC West JV 5 p.m.
4/6 @ TC Central JV 5 p.m.
4/8 @ Charlevoix 12 p.m.
4/10 vs TC Liberty 5 p.m.
4/12 @ Benzie 5 p.m.
4/15 @ Hart Invitational 9:30 a.m.
4/17 @ Kingsley 5 p.m.
4/19 vs Suttons Bay 5 p.m.
4/21 vs Elk Rapids 5 p.m.
4/24 @ Glen Lake 5 p.m.
5/1 vs Benzie 5 p.m.
5/3 vs Kingsley 5 p.m.
5/6 vs Muskegon CC 2 p.m.
5/8 @ Suttons Bay 5 p.m.
5/12 vs Charlevoix 5 p.m.
5/20 vs Lingaur Invitational 9 a.m.
5/26 vs Harbor Springs 5 p.m.

4/6 vs Manistee 6 p.m.
4/8 @ McBain NMC 9 a.m.
4/10 vs Benzie Central 5 p.m.
4/12 @ Glen Lake 5 p.m.
4/17 vs TC Bulldogs (Northport) 5 p.m.
4/19 @ Leland 5 p.m.
4/24 @ Kingsley 5 p.m.
4/26 @ Benzie 5 p.m.
5/1 vs Glen Lake 5 p.m.
5/5 @ Hart 5 p.m.
5/8 vs Leland 5 p.m.
5/10 vs Kingsley 5 p.m.
5/13 @ Kalkaska Invitational 10:30 a.m.
5/15 vs Elk Rapids 5 p.m.
5/17 vs Kalkaska 5 p.m.
5/19 vs Benzie (Northport) 5 p.m.
5/22 vs Roscommon (Northport) 5 p.m.
5/25 @ TC Bulldogs 5 p.m.

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