Ferndale High boys soccer program could be bolstered by talented youth

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published October 11, 2017

 Ferndale High sophomore Mervin Gonzales gets a foot on the ball during a recent game against Pontiac High. Ferndale coach Matt LaLone said he can put out 11 good soccer players every given night.

Ferndale High sophomore Mervin Gonzales gets a foot on the ball during a recent game against Pontiac High. Ferndale coach Matt LaLone said he can put out 11 good soccer players every given night.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

With the season coming close to an end, Ferndale High boys soccer coach Matt LaLone has come to grips with the reality that this year probably won’t be as successful as he would have liked.

At press time, the Eagles were 5-9 overall and 3-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

LaLone conceded that the team won’t reach its goal of winning an OAA Blue championship, and after looking at the program’s district playoff draw, he said it is not favorable for Ferndale.

The Eagles are part of a Division 2 district hosted by Farmington Hills Harrison, and they will play at 4 p.m. Oct. 16 in a first-round match against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood at Cranbrook.

As of Oct. 2, Cranbrook was ranked third among D-2 teams in the state by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.

LaLone said there are still some things that can be accomplished before season’s end.

“My goal is now to be realistic about beating the teams that we should beat,” LaLone said. “If we can beat the teams that we should beat, I think our guys would walk away thinking that this season is a relative success.”

Although going forward LaLone would like to improve Ferndale’s offensive attack, the team’s progress defensively has pleased him.

“In my experience coaching high school soccer, I’ve learned through the years I have to start with defensive principles and play as a unit,” LaLone said. “In that sense, I think where I have focused, my boys have responded. … The development from last year, defensively, is something that I am very happy with.”

Part of Ferndale’s defense includes what LaLone said is a strong back four in Nick Mendoza, Lee Chafin, Angelo Colucci and Issa Pizzimenti.

LaLone also said the team has had positive play from goalkeeper Marcus Gonzales.

This is Chafin’s second season having LaLone as his coach, and he likes an element that has been brought to the team.

“Once LaLone came in, he really stressed the passing,” Chafin said. “For the second year of him coaching us, we’ve come together much better; (we’re) passing a lot better.”

Ferndale’s team captains are seniors Sid Meade and Jackson Sherman, as well as Chafin, who is a junior.

Going forward, the program may be led by players such as twin brothers Cameron and Christopher Khan, as well as Pizzimenti, who are all in their freshman season.

“I’ve got some freshmen who can flat-out play,” LaLone said. “The real highlight of our team is our youth. … So, I’m really looking forward, optimistically, to the future to see if one of these years we can’t catch lightning in a bottle and win our division.”

As for the present, LaLone described the state of Ferndale’s program as positive.

“We might not be as deep as other teams. Our top players might not be at the level of other teams’ top players, but I can put out 11 good soccer players every given night, and we can represent the team well,” he said. “So, I’m pretty pleased.”