Young Lamphere soccer squad finding its stride

By: Christian Davis | Madison - Park News | Published April 22, 2016

 Lamphere freshman Lauren Mexico (6) works for position in a game earlier this season. She’s provided a scoring punch along with sophomore Ava Riley.

Lamphere freshman Lauren Mexico (6) works for position in a game earlier this season. She’s provided a scoring punch along with sophomore Ava Riley.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

MADISON HEIGHTS — A day after their first win of the season, Madison Heights Lamphere girls soccer coach Mike Joa turned and asked his players what their goals were this season.

The answers ranged from winning every home game, the league, a district championship and even one “go all the way.”

If the Rams are going to accomplish any of those, they’ll be doing it with a talented yet youthful roster.

Lamphere is without a senior in the lineup and has only three juniors. The rest of the team is made up of underclassmen.

“It’s 14- and 15-year-olds playing against 17- and 18-year-olds in most games, but we do have some decent talent,” Joa said April 19 before practice began. “I think the majority of the varsity girls are offseason travel players.

“Next year and the following year, we should have a very good program. How often do you get players with three years of varsity experience as a junior?”

Still, the coach’s focus is on the present. At press time, Lamphere was 1-3-1 overall and 1-2 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division, coming off a 3-2 victory against Port Huron Northern.

Joa said every game has been close and that the team is starting to find its stride.

“I’ve seen that we usually start slow,” he said, noting that their grass field often puts them a step behind teams that practice on turf, and injuries hit hard and early this season. “We scored one goal in our first two or three games and then scored five in our last two games.”

The scoring punch has come from sophomore Ava Riley and freshman Lauren Mexico. Riley has four goals in the last three games. Mexico notched two in the victory against Northern.

Defensively, Joa said that sophomore Alex Papavasilia has helped keep opponents’ opportunities at bay.

In net, sophomore Kate Griffin and junior Megan Terbrueggen have kept the scoring low when opponents do get their shots.

The coach said his squad has moved the ball well, estimating that it has had the advantage in possession time in three of the five games, but needs to improve on finishing when it gets good chances.

“With how young we are, I’d say there’s nothing we can do but improve and go up,” he said.

Catch the Rams against Warren Cousino at 6 p.m. April 27 at home.