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Downriver League soccer teams ready for 2014 PHOTOS

Melvindale’s Saleh Ahmed is back for his final outing as a Cardinal after a 2013 season that included 21 goals and 7 assists. News-Herald File Photo

Last season, the Trenton boys’ soccer team celebrated a Downriver League title and a district championship. News-Herald File Photo

It was an interesting season for local boys’ soccer teams last fall; one full of intense competition and this season looks to be much of the same.

The Downriver League went right down to the wire with the champion being decided in the final matchup of the season.

The Trenton-Melvindale game had four outcomes and three gave the Trojans the outright DRL title.

The odds were in Trenton’s favor in 2013 and the Trojans handed Melvindale a 5-0 loss and stole the title outright.

After a 19-5 record and a regional final appearance, the Trojans lost some big players to graduation.

“We lost six seniors,” Coach Mike Hatfield said. “Everything from the starting goalkeeper to 35 goals and 20 assists. We graduated a lot.”

But that doesn’t mean Trenton will back down from the competition this season. Hatfield has plenty coming back including Tad Davis (22 goals, 14 assists in 2013) and starting centerback Brendan Kozial.

Hatfield said he is looking forward to seeing how his key players continue to improve as 2014 gets underway.

“It’s not new players that I am excited about,” he said. “It’s about the returning players taking bigger roles this year.

“Our season will depend on those players.”

The Trojans opened their season Friday when they took on Lincoln Park. They will face Truman on Monday.



Melvindale

Last year, the Cardinals were dubbed as the team to beat by many DRL squads, and for good reason.

Melvindale squared off with Trenton in the final DRL matchup of the season for a game that would decide the title.

The Cardinals fell to Trenton, but with a 13-5 overall record and 12-4 league record, had nothing to be disappointed about.

Coach Brian Fritz lost a few key players to graduation in the form of Angel Lopez, Musa Quraish, Fayez Ahmed, and Hamza Hussein, but many familiar faces return to the pitch for 2014.

Last year’s leading goal scorer, Saleh Ahmed is back for his final outing as a Cardinal and after a 2013 season that included 21 goals and 7 assists, Fritz says he is ready to continue his exceptional play up top.

Captain Khaled Mousa also returns to lead the defensive group this season and midfielders Hector Lopez, Juan Castillo, Mohammed Muhsen and Martin Gonzalez will also all play important roles.

Fritz and the coaching staff are also excited about the new additions to the team this season.

Abdulsalam Said, Kassem Korish and Sergio Mares have all been working hard, as has goalkeeper Alexis Flores.

Jesus Castillo and Mohamed Korish are both freshman and expected to contribute this year.

The Cardinals’ team goals focus around academic success and simply competing to the best of their ability in the competitive league.

“We have a family atmosphere that is committed to put the team first,” Fritz said. “This is a very challenging league from top to bottom.

“Every single team has talent. The team is ready to get going and start playing.”

The Cardinals opened up against Woodhaven on Friday.



Woodhaven

The Downriver League came right down to the wire last season and the scores of some final games between the top teams left Woodhaven with a second-place finish in the league.

The Warriors finished 13-1 in the league and 14-6-1 overall and expect much of the same success as 2014 roles underway.

Lead by a new Coach, Scott Hoye, the Warriors are ready to see just how far they can go this season.

“Our number one goal is to play a brand of soccer representing Woodhaven’s soccer talent with sportsmanship and passion,” Hoye said. “We are a young team with many new pieces, including me as the head coach (and) the goal for the year is to improve and build our brand of soccer, posses the ball, build as a team and have a solid second half of our league schedule.”

The Warriors lost a few big names to graduation in the form of Justin Underwood, Yousef Safah, Austin VonLinsowe and Jacob Bak, but return a plethora of familiar faces.

Luke Baker, Grant Baker, David Camarena, Lucas Dupuis, Deavyn Dishroon, Blake Panning, Marcus Vianueva, Brendan Machcinski, Andrew Boardman and Josh Roman all return to the Warrior roster for 2014.

The veterans will be joined by newcomers Maceo Brown, Brendan Byrns, David Conley, Derek Crawley, Trevor Deon, Noah Jankulovski, Nick Kekich, Trevor Kenyon, Joey Kilgore and Adam Willinger.

Hoye says it will be a tough league season and ultimately expects his team to be ready to play the best brand of soccer mid-October when districts role around.

“Our league is extremely competitive,” he said. “We will need to gain our confidence.

“Each game will give us a better grasp of what we do well and what needs to be worked on to improve our game.”



Anderson

Quality and talent is what Anderson Coach Larry Lankford says will be driving his boys’ soccer team this season.

The Titans have a big junior class of 10 players and return many of the same players , including eight starters, as last season, although they did lost big scorer Richard Hodnicki and goal keeper Ben Senior.

“We lost a couple of big players last year so there’s gonna be some good shoes to fill,” Lankford said. “If we can get past that, we have quality and a lot of talent on the team.”

Replacing a big goal scorer is hard, but Lankford has confidence in this year’s squad as they head into 2014.

“If we can find somebody, or a combination of players to score the goals that we need, then I think we’re gonna be very competitive,” he said. “We have speed and we have skill.

“I’m excited to get started and see where we’re at.”

Key returnees for the Titans this season include Gio Manzella who finished last season with double-digit goals and assists and Dice Kay who finished with 14 points in 2013.

Also returning as a sophomore is Justin Barnes, a 2013 All League defender who is moving up to forward.

“He’s got sprinter speed (and) he can finish,” Lankford said. “Once he gets used to his new position, I think he’s gonna be a big one for us.”

Mike Smith also returns to the pitch for his final outing as a Titan.

“He’s been a backbone on defense since he was a freshman,” Lankford said. “Mike coming back is going to be big and he’s taking a leadership role. I’m very impressed with what he’s shown so far.”

Lankford said the big junior class is a positive point to the team and hopes it means good things for the Titans’ future as the group stays together the next two seasons.

“That’s where I’m excited,” Lankford said. “I think the next two years there’s a big window of opportunity and I hope that we can take advantage of it.”

Lankford says with the mix of players coming back to each team in the Downriver League this season, the whole league could be up in the air and come down to the wire.

“I don’t think any coach is going to flat out be able to tell you who is going to win this year,” he said. “I really think it’s gonna come down to who gets the breaks and who plays the best.

“I don’t think you can look at one rivalry in this league; if you look at one and overlook another, you can get beat.”

The Titans started hot last year, but a mid-season slump left them out of contention for the DRL title. Now, the team is ready to move on.

“I told them in the last lecture, now it’s time to forget about last year and learn from what we did and get stronger,” Lankford said. “It’s a new year every year.

“They need to learn from their mistakes (but) I think we’re gonna have a solid season. I’m cautiously optimistic that we can be extremely competitive this year.”

The Titans opened their season Friday against Kennedy. On Monday they take on Melvindale.





Truman



After a fourth-place finish in the Downriver League last year, the Cougars return a solid core of seniors who have been playing together for four years.

Key returnees for Truman this season include seniors Ramiro Sauceda, Zach Laster, Dustin Dunbar and Zack Glitz as well as junior Seth Glitz and junior goalkeeper Tristan Johnson.

Coach Gary Glitz is excited about the addition of junior Winger Pappa Diaw to the team. Born in Africa, he is new to high school soccer, but Glitz says he has a great athletic ability.

Leading the team a captains this season will be Sauceda, Laster and Zack and Seth Glitz.

Glitz and his Cougars have high expectations for the 2014 outing.

“We know the top teams from last season are going to be solid and all the rest of us should be improved, so we have to step it up in all facets of the game,” Glitz said. “This group of seniors has been together for four years and their ability to lead will be the key to our successes this season.

“If the team can remain focused and rise above the challenges, this year could prove to be successful. We want to improve as the season goes on and to be in a position to win every game that we play.”

The Cougars open up their season Friday when they host Ypsilanti. The following week they start league play with Trenton on Monday and Melvindale on Wednesday.

“We don’t know much about Ypsilanti,” Glitz said. “And Trenton and Melvindale will show us exactly where we are at within the first week of the season.”





Carlson

Despite a seventh-place finish in the league last season, the Marauders caused quite a stir in the Downriver League towards the end, upsetting both Anderson and Melvindale in the final weeks.

And with many of those players back on the 2014 roster, it could mean nothing but good things for Coach Mario Parody.

Key returnees for Carlson include senior Ethan Livernois in net, seniors Damian Ovalle, Brandon Papke and Lorenzo Parody on defense and seniors Harrison Grias, Erick Serratos and Bard Elmazaj at midfield to name a few.

New this year is sophomore Devin Reiter, who Parody says showed potential last season.

“Knowing Devin, I’m sure that he’ll be trying very hard to gain a starting position for himself this season,” he said.

Parody is excited about his team continuing their careers together and says it can only mean good things.

“The current squad has been competing together for the last couple of years, strengthening their chemistry and improving their individual skills along the way,” he said. “Having had a strong finish at the end of last season, it is hoped that they continue where the left off.

“If so, they should be able to compete for the top three or four positions during the course of the season, and if they proceed to hone their skills and increase their desire to succeed as a team, they could finish much stronger.”

The Marauders will compete in two tournaments this season; the annual Carlson Invite and the SMCC tournament and Parody expects his team to be competitive in both.

This year the team will be led by Livernois and Parody as captains and the squad is currently in the process of electing a third.

Parody is also thrilled with the return and talent of the JV squad.

“There’s a handful of students who possess a very good quality of play and chemistry on the field,” he said. “Our hope will be that in conjunction with returning players, they are able to effortlessly fill the void the current group of varsity seniors leave after the end of this season.”

Carlson opened its season Friday when the Marauders hosted Allen Park.



Allen Park

Experience is what will drive the Allen Park boys’ soccer team this season for Coach Brian Trionfi.

The Jags lost six key players to graduation last year in the form of Zach Hill, Richard Paige, Andrew Cora, Jonathan LePage, Kevin Tanner and goalkeeper Brandon Curren, but still return a good core.

Three seniors, Rei Hysi, Trent Simms and Logan Tkack, will lead the young team through the 2014 season.

“We’re still a young team, (but) with so many returning players, we will be a little more experienced than last year,” Trionfi said. “We have a lot of skilled players that can play multiple positions, and I am excited to see how they improve as a team this season.”

Stepping up in net this year will be Jonathan Seloom and Trionfi expects good things from the position.

After a disappointing 2014 (4-14-1) and a loss in the first round of districts, Trionfi and his squad and back and ready to get this fall underway.

“I am excited to see how they compete with the other teams in the league,” Trionfi said. “They have the potential to do very well this year.

“The league is filled with very good teams and I think it will be a very competitive league.”

The Jags opened their season Friday when they traveled to Carlson. The first home game is August 28 when they host Inter-City Baptist.



Lincoln Park

Experience will guide the Railsplitters this season as the team enters 2014 with a new head coach.

David Doran is taking over the reins in Lincoln Park and handling a team of mostly veterans.

Among those returnees are Jose Altamiraro, Jose Delgado, Fausto Cuevas, Cesar Cuevas, Luis Morales, Erik Hernandez and Carlos Ruiz.

Doran is excited to get the season underway and after a 7-9 finish last year has high expectations for his new team.

“We want to advance from our district (and) we want to get a win over every team in the league at least one time,” he said.

The Rails opened Friday against Trenton.



Kennedy

The Eagles will also be under a new head coach this season as Becky Ansell takes over the program.

Despite taking over a team that did not record a win in 2013, Ansell is excited about the future.

“I am going into the season with high expectations, regardless of last year’s zero-wins record,” she said. “This season’s upperclassmen look to be a strong core and likely to lead the younger team members to victory.”

Ansell says she is most looking forward to watching her work together to achieve their success this fall.

Last Updated: 8/22/2014 5:05:36 PM EST

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