Liggett boys return following district championship

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 21, 2014

 Liggett soccer opens the new season at 4:40 p.m. Sept. 4 at Ann Arbor Greenhills.

Liggett soccer opens the new season at 4:40 p.m. Sept. 4 at Ann Arbor Greenhills.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Over the years, the boys soccer program at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett has experienced success at the highest possible level, winning four state titles since 1982.

However, from 2010-12, coach David Backhurst said the program hadn’t made it past districts. While the lack of a post-season title was a change from years past, things may have seemed a bit more familiar for Backhurst last season, as Liggett made it all the way to a regional final game.

While he would have preferred to have had an even deeper run in the playoffs, Backhurst isn’t ruling out the possibility that the success the Knights had could pay future dividends.

“I’m looking forward to equaling, or surpassing, last year’s squad, far as success on the field,” he said. “It was a great ride, and we have that core of players coming back who smelled success, enjoyed success, and I think that might help propel us to a higher level of ability — kind of building off that success of last year. What a great run that was. I’m hoping they can build on that momentum.”

If Liggett is to have another successful season, it will have to do it with a roster with some fresh faces, as the Knights lost eight players from last year’s squad, including four All-State players. Liggett is, however, expected to return nine players.

The Knights are expected to start Anthony George, who will be entering his freshman season, in net. He will be replacing All-State goalie Patrick Broder.

Backhurst could use some big seasons from his returning players, as in the past the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue Division has been the home of some of the top Division 4 teams in the state. Backhurst expects things to be competitive this fall.

“It’s a really highly competitive division of our conference,” he said. “Historically, there have been no easy games on our schedule. Every year when they go to put together the weekly top 10, our upper division of that conference has four, maybe five, teams ranked state-wide.”

Despite the challenges that may lie ahead, Backhurst offered an optimistic outlook regarding the upcoming campaign.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m always very excited at this time of the year. I really enjoy putting the team together. No. 1, we’re trying to get everybody in shape. I’m really excited about it and looking forward to getting underway. I’m very optimistic.”

Liggett is scheduled to open its regular-season schedule at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 4 against Ann Arbor Greenhills. The Knights’ home opener is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 9 against Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest.

Due to turf being put in at Liggett, Backhurst indicated the Knights will play at least some of their home games in Roseville at Veterans Memorial Park.