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May 15, 2013

Liggett soccer gears up for postseason

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Liggett’s Eleni Pitses looks to make a play during a game against Oakland Christian. Pitses is one of four seniors on the Knights’ squad.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s soccer program has experienced its share of success over the years, as the boys and girls teams have combined to win five state titles since 1982.

The last state title for the girls came in 2005. When he took over the program approximately five years ago from David Backhurst, coach David Dwaihy understood he was taking the helm of a team with a strong tradition.

Given that the kind of rich history Liggett has enjoyed comes primarily via postseason success, the fact that the Knights have not made it past districts in at least five years is something Dwaihy would like to do something about. Between his time as an assistant and a head coach, Dwaihy has approximately 11 years of experience with Liggett, and he would like to see some of the tradition he has been a part of be re-established.

“There were a number of years where we would win the district pretty handily,” he said. “We were always in there as one of the top teams in the state for Division 4, and I hope we can kind of retain that status, starting this year. I think we got a really talented group of girls. (Hopefully), we can get back to that tradition.

“It would mean a lot, but the one thing (assistant coach) Andy Knote and I always say, we really try not to focus too much on the results on the scoreboard. We all have kind of agreed that we’re (going to) feel good about how things turn out, as long as we know we’ve done the things we’re in control of and as long as the girls put forth a great effort, don’t give up, work together (and) play unselfishly.”

The best training ground for success in the postseason can come via a challenging regular-season schedule, and Dwaihy thinks his team is getting just that as a result of competing in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue Division, which he considers to be one of the toughest in Division 4. At press time, the Knights led the division with a record of 7-0 (7-2-1 overall).

If the Knights were able to win a MIAC Blue title, Dwaihy would like to see his team carry that momentum right into its district tournament, as he understands the challenge that awaits once it arrives.

“I think it’ll be competitive,” he said. “Cardinal Mooney is a school we’ve played a few times in recent years, and they’re always really tough. They beat us sometimes, we beat them others. It’s definitely not the kind of game we would expect to win unless we really had a good game. They’re well-coached; they got a lot of good athletes over there. I think they’ll be a very worthy opponent, should we face them.

“I don’t know a lot about some of the other schools, but I like our chances. We are a team that could win it, if we play up to our potential.”

According to Dwaihy, he has gotten good leadership from seniors Arianna Castillo, Beth Ottosen, Eleni Pitses and Ashley Webster. And while he would like to see them end their high school careers on a winning note, he has also given some thought as to what the future may look like for Liggett soccer.

“We’re (going to) miss these four seniors greatly,” he said. “But we’ve got a very good junior class in place — a large class. We got a great batch of freshmen this year. We’ve got some girls who have played JV in recent years who have stepped up into positions of varsity. And from what I understand, we’ve got a really good group of eighth-graders in our middle school coming in. I think the future for girls soccer’s pretty bright.”

Liggett is scheduled to host a Division 4 district tournament May 28-June 1. Contact the school for scheduled start times.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.