If Lake’s boys’ soccer team keeps this up, Genoa won’t be the only local squad to get ambushed by the Flyers in 2008.
First-year coach Chad Lillich’s team lost its first two matches this season before going on a five-match winning streak, beginning with a 3-2 victory over their Suburban Lakes League rival Comets.
“It was probably one of the biggest wins in our school’s (soccer) history,” Lillich said. “Last year we played a lot of direct soccer. This year we’re playing a lot more indirect - using the sidelines to move the ball forward. It helped us jump into this and we’re more confident with the win. Beating Genoa definitely put a big stamp of approval on our program.”
Freshman forward Ozvaldo Paredes had two goals and Drew Metz, a sophomore midfielder/forward, scored the other goal for the Flyers in their win over the Comets.
Last season, Lake finished with a 6-10 record that included 4-1 and 3-0 losses to Genoa. Last month, Genoa trailed the Flyers 3-0 at halftime and scored on a penalty kick and added a goal with about a minute left in the match.
On Tuesday, Lake crushed Tiffin Calvert 5-0 to improve to 5-2 (2-1 Suburban Lakes League).
The young Flyers started the season with a 4-3 road loss to Liberty-Benton and a 4-1 home loss to Eastwood. Lake has since beaten Genoa, Swanton (3-1), Mohawk (7-0), Otsego (3-1) and Calvert.
“We have a pretty small team,” Lillich said of his 17-man squad. “We’re not very big and we lost nine seniors from last year, but they’re a hard working group of kids.”
The team’s leading scorer is the 5-3, 125-pound Paredes, a transfer from Eastwood who has 12 goals through six matches.
“He used to play for me on travel teams,” Lillich said. “I’ve had him since he was 6 years old. We have a pretty balanced team across the board. He’s a hard worker, pretty much non-stop. He’s got a motor and has a great work ethic and doesn't quit.”
Metz has four goals and eight assists through the Flyers’ first six games.
“He reads the field and has a great first touch,” Lillich said. “He plays both sides of the field and is a strong defender. He’s got a nice finishing touch.”
Lake’s captains are Nick Byrd, a center-defender, and junior keeper Scotty Hartman.
“We have a very young team,” Lillich said. “I have three seniors and only one of them (forward Chris Henry) gets what I consider a significant amount of playing time. From Nick and Scotty, we’re looking for leadership on and off the field and for them to be good role models.”
The coach added that the Flyers are getting solid play from defenders Zach Sarka, Keegan Lucas, Paul Kidd, Ricky Cox and Kyle Timbrook.
“They’ve anchored us these last four games,” Lillich said. “ We’ve only had a few quality shots against us. As long as they keep playing strong defensively, we’ll be tough to beat.”
Sophomore center-midfielder Bryant Philo, who missed the first two matches while recovering from a car accident and knee surgery, has given Lake much-needed depth this season. Phil scored against Calvert on Tuesday.
“He’s given us a spark we’ve been looking for,” Lillich said. “He plays in the middle and makes all the plays for us.”
The team’s key reserves are seniors Matt Simkus and Chris Rollins, junior Chris Tersigni, sophomore Justin Besgrove and freshman Marcus Music.
“We want to have one of the top teams going into the (Division III) tournament and improve on last year’s record,” Lillich said. “We’re only looking one game at a time and we want to improve each game. Hopefully, when we can go into the tournament we can do some nice things with it.”