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Grosse Pointe Woods

September 19, 2012

Liggett soccer hopes to contend for MIAC Blue title

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Liggett senior Peter Hopkins looks to control the ball in a recent game against Southfield Christian. The Knights have been moved into the competitive MIAC Blue Division.

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

The quote is from Thomas Paine, and it is one Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett soccer coach David Backhurst said hopes will define his team’s 2012 season.

Last year, the Knights went 14-0 in the regular season en route to a Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red Division title. Birmingham Roeper then knocked them out in the opening round of district play.

Prior to this season, Liggett was moved into the MIAC Blue Division. It just so happens that Roeper, along with teams such as Auburn Hills Oakland Christian and defending Division 4 state champion Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, reside in that division.

Indeed, this season will present fresh challenges for the Knights, which is why Backhurst believes Paine’s quote is so appropriate for Liggett’s 2012 campaign. According to Backhurst, some of the teams in the MIAC are typically ranked within the top 10 in the state.

But the good news for Liggett fans is that Backhurst thinks his team might be pretty good, too.

“I still think we’re one of the top teams in the upper division,” he said. “I think we’re as good as anybody from what I’ve seen.”

Backhurst began his coaching career at Liggett in 1982. Since then, the Knights have won four state titles.

On occasion, Backhurst shows his team film from those championship games.

He hopes the images captured on that film will help to inspire his team to make some lasting memories of their own.

“I think that’s a motivating factor, for sure,” Backhurst said of his team’s awareness of the program’s state titles. “Plus, our school athletics has really picked up as of late. We won the state championship in boys hockey (2012); our baseball team won the state championship the year before that. And our girls basketball team has finished runner-up (2011 and 2012). I think our players are seeing all those championships or near championships — that’s also a major motivating factor.”

Backhurst will be relying on captains Andrew Amine and Andrew Heaney to help the Knights make their way through the MIAC and beyond.

Junior goalie Patrick Broder has also been a nice addition for Liggett. Prior to this season, he had no competitive experience as a soccer player.

Backhurst put an announcement in the school bulletin that Liggett was in search of a netminder, and despite his lack of experience, decided to give Broder a chance. With the aid of his defense, Broder got off to an impressive start, allowing just one goal through the first three games, and helped his team to a 3-0 start.

At press time, the Knights sit at 5-3, and Backhurst hopes that the level of competition they are facing within their own division pays dividends once the postseason rolls around.

“Each game is a battle,” he said. “The upper division of this league has a really good reputation across the state. We have a good core of players coming back from last year, (and) I think they were looking forward to the improved competition this year. We’re certainly getting it. We will be battle tested.”

Liggett is next scheduled to be in action at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20 against Lutheran Westland on the road. The Knights’ next home game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sept. 27 against Plymouth Christian.

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