Written by Mark Griffin
August 28, 2009
Not too many schools can say their boys and girls soccer teams have played in the regional tournament in the same year.
Lake High School can.
Second-year Flyers boys coach Chad Lillich saw his team win eight straight games and reach the Division III regional finals last year before a 4-0 loss to eventual state champion Ottawa Hills ended Lake's season.
The Flyers finished 15-5-1 overall and 2-3-1 in the Suburban Lakes League.
"It was a pretty young team," Lillich recalled. "We only had three seniors, but they got hot at the right time. We had a couple guys who worked pretty hard. We seemed to outwork the majority of the teams we played against."
Lake returns 10 starters from that squad, including senior midfielders Nick Byrd and Scott Hartman and defender Zach Sarka.
Hartman has been moved to midfield from goalie, where he allowed just 1.81 goals per game as a junior. Senior Tim Metz, a transfer from Northwood, will be the Flyers' goalie this season.
"Tim is big, athletic and pretty skilled," Lillich said. "He hasn't played goalie in a while, but he's working at it."
Lake's other returning starters are juniors Bryant Philo, Drew Metz, Kyle Timbrook, Keegan Lucas, Nick McCarthy and Ricky Cox, and sophomore Johnny Eckenrod.
Philo, who will play midfield, forward and defender, scored seven goals and had seven assists last season.
"He's one of my top three players," Lillich said.
Drew Metz, a forward-midfielder, scored 15 goals with 19 assists last year.
"He has a great first touch, he's a good finisher and he works hard," Lillich said. "We are looking for some leadership skills from him this season."
Timbrook is a midfielder, while Lucas, McCarthy and Cox are defenders. Eckenrod is a forward-midfielder.
"I have a bunch of kids I've moved around because of a couple losses," Lillich said. "Our thing is to play our system, use ball control and finish the chances we have and just be consistent. They have good field awareness and we're pretty quick. We're not the biggest team in the area, so we have to rely on passing, ball movement and hustle."
Lillich added that his players have to realize that expectations are higher this season because of last year's tournament run.
"We want to win one game at a time and improve each game," the coach said. "They've never had much (soccer) success at Lake, so a lot of these kids aren't used to having that winning attitude. When you finish the way you did and set the bar that high, it requires more work. It's easy to go out there when your expectations aren't that high."
Lake's boys program has moved up to Division II this season. The Flyers, who have 24 players on their roster, were two boys above the Ohio High School Athletic Association cutoff to compete in Division III.
"We scheduled some bigger teams this year," Lillich said. "We have Bowling Green on our schedule, and we played a pretty heavy preseason schedule to prepare for this season."
The Flyers opened at home Tuesday against one of Ohio’s best programs, Liberty-Benton, and Lake managed a 1-1 tie. Philo scored the goal on an assist from Metz, and for the Eagles, Brenton Windle scored.