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LaLone aims to make Ferndale a solid soccer program, from the ground up

September 13, 2012

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Ferndale coach Matt LaLone, center, talks things over with his guys during a Sept. 7 practice. LaLone said he wants to make Ferndale a consistent soccer program for years to come.

Matt Lalone referred to himself as a “washed up soccer player still in denial of his own age.”

Sad, maybe, he said with a laugh, but that fact took the 1997 Waterford Kettering grad, who had a successful high school career and even gave college soccer a chance before failing to make the Western Michigan University team as a walk-on, to a new stage in his soccer career, one that’s off the field and on the sidelines at Ferndale High.

“I don’t know if Ferndale will ever be a huge soccer haven, per say, but if we can create a system that will serve these kids best, it’ll be great for this program moving forward,” LaLone said last week. “We’re going to try and get some younger kids interested in soccer, and that feeds the high school program as they grow up. It’s all a process, and I’m glad to be part of it.”

Since winning a district title in 2009, the Ferndale team has fallen on hard times.

A year ago, the Eagles were just 7-13-2 overall and placed third from last in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

LaLone, who coached at the junior varsity level the past three seasons at Birmingham Lahser, had longed to gain a varsity job, and after being hired into the Ferndale School District, he applied for the vacancy with the Eagles’ program.

He feels like he’s arrived at a good time.

“We’ve got 12 seniors on this team, which is great,” he said. “We don’t have any juniors, and a we have a bunch of sophomores. Our numbers aren’t great, but we’ve got some quality soccer players, and that’s what counts.”

At press time, Ferndale was 1-2, having lost to Oxford High and West Bloomfield High before beating Hazel Park High.

“Matt’s a cool guy. I mean, he’s listening to us as players since we’ve all played together for so long,” senior goalie Isaac McGill said. “Our ideas and our opinions count during practice and during games. He depends on us a lot, which is pretty cool.”

LaLone said that’s a main key for this season, getting to know his guys and not trying to make any drastic changes.

As far as goals for the rest of the year, LaLone quickly talked about the postseason tournament.

“First and foremost, I want these guys to win a playoff game,” he added. “If we get everything moving in the right way, be our best by the end of the year and win a game in the district, that would do a lot for us, not just this year, but in the very near future, as well.”

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