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Harrison Township

October 2, 2013

L’Anse Creuse boys soccer team rounding into form

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse boys soccer team has already surpassed its win total from each of the past two seasons. Pictured is Zuhair Issa during a Sept. 23 win over MAC Blue foe St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse boys soccer team has already exceeded its win total from each of the last two seasons.

The Lancers, 6-5, 3-4 Macomb Area Conference Blue Division at press time, picked up a big league win Sept. 23, knocking off defending MAC Blue co-champ St. Clair Shores Lake Shore 1-0 at Lake Shore. The victory gave L’Anse Creuse two more wins than it had in 2012 and one more than 2011.

The last time the Lancers finished above .500 was 2006.

“I think we’ve been leaps and bounds better than last season,” junior midfielder/forward and co-captain Jaret LeBarge said. “We’ve all grown as a team, and I think it’s only going to get better as the season goes along.”

Lancers head coach Bill McClelland said a wealth of returning players — 11 seniors and several of the nine juniors on the squad — has played a role in the team’s change in fortune.

McClelland did say there is still some inexperience on the team and that some of the players are still shellshocked at the speed of the varsity game.

“Things are coming along, though,” McClelland said. “There’s no more excuses. We’re halfway through the season. Guys need to step up, or they’re going to be noticed in the wrong way.”

Stepping up, McClelland said, includes scoring goals. He said his team has to score goals to be competitive.

“That’s our No. 1 priority,” McClelland said. “If we put more goals in the net, that puts a lot more pressure on the other team. I’d love to say we’d stop more shots, but if we’re not scoring, we’re going to have some issues.”

LaBarge, one of three junior captains along with defenseman Joey Verbeke and midfielder Patrick Carmody, agreed that scoring goals is one of the areas the Lancers must work on if they hope to stay on the uptick. He said the team has good ball movement, but it’s making the final pass where L’Anse Creuse struggles.

“I think we’re definitely getting better at that,” LaBarge said. “Coach has said it before, but we need guys to step up and create and give us some big plays in games. Once one player does something, it inspires the rest of the team. But the hard part is getting that first goal and setting the tone.”

McClelland said he and the team have set a goal of finishing near the top of the MAC Blue. Every team in the division is looking up at defending co-champ Macomb Dakota (9-1, 6-0 MAC Blue at press time).

McClelland said he sees Dakota, Lake Shore and Warren Mott as tops in the league. The L’Anse Creuse coach said having a solid season could help the psyche of his team going into the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs, which begin Oct. 14.

“If you can finish in the top three in the MAC Blue, you’re doing something right,” McClelland said. “The Blue is good. …  The guys seeing the team name near the middle of the Blue will give them a lot of confidence.”

The Lancers will look to pick up a win inside the Blue when they take on Warren Mott (7-4, 5-2 MAC Blue) in a match slated for 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at Mott.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.