Ferndale High soccer has winning record against OAA Blue opponents

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published September 26, 2018

 Ferndale High boys soccer coach Matt LaLone is pictured during a game earlier this season. LaLone would like for Ferndale to get more travel players on the team.

Ferndale High boys soccer coach Matt LaLone is pictured during a game earlier this season. LaLone would like for Ferndale to get more travel players on the team.

Photo by Sean Work

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Prior to a recent game against Birmingham Groves, Ferndale High boys soccer coach Matt LaLone was thinking about a big difference between his opponent’s program and his own.

Due to players on Groves’ squad also playing travel soccer, he commented that, “They’ve taken thousands and thousands more touches per year than a guy that I got who only plays high school soccer.”

And given that “you don’t have to go far to find a travel team to play for,” getting more players who play outside of high school is not out of the realm of possibility for Ferndale, either.

If LaLone was to get more players with that kind of experience prior to entering high school, it could change the future of Ferndale’s soccer program.

“I’d like to have another class next year of freshmen, with five travel players that can really play,” LaLone said. “And I think that’s what we’ve been missing here at Ferndale for a long time. … When you can get five travel players in each class, then you’re starting to look more like Groves looks. It’s really about cultivating this game all year around. And that’s what’s (going to) make these guys develop at the same pace as their opponents.”

If Ferndale does get more players with travel soccer experience, it could help the program do something it hasn’t accomplished since 2009: win a Division 2 district championship.

Although LaLone did acknowledge that winning a district title is a goal, chasing championships isn’t his only source of satisfaction as a coach.

“It would mean a lot to me to kind (of) validate all the hard work that the kids and the coaches put in,” LaLone said. “But honestly, for me as a coach, the rewards that I glean from this aren’t always in wins and losses. It’s with seeing my guys develop, seeing them overcome adversity, and just to be able to do the things on the field that they couldn’t do a week, a month or two months ago — individually and teamwise.”

At press time, Ferndale was 3-6-2 overall. On the positive side, all of the Eagles’ wins had come against Oakland Activities Association Blue Division opponents, as they were 3-1 in division play.

LaLone has seen some things to like.

“These guys are winning some tough games,” he said. “So that’s really good for me to see, our guys being challenged and rising up and trying to find a way to overcome adversity in many games. ... So that just makes it a lot more fun, when these guys are tested, especially when they rise to the occasion.”

However things may turn out, LaLone said it has been a rewarding season already.

As for what the future could hold, the Eagles have two freshmen, four sophomores and eight juniors on this year’s roster.

“We only have three seniors this year,” LaLone said. “Freshman class is good. So, I think the future’s bright.”

Up next, Ferndale plays at 4:40 p.m. Sept. 28 at home against Wayne Memorial High.

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