LEROY – Jesse Gingrich and Larry Kissinger have established themselves as two of the key players for the Pine River soccer team, which is entering a new era.

Gingrich scored the only goal for his team in Friday’s 1-1 tie with Custer Mason-County Eastern to open the season.

It’s Gingrich’s first year on the varsity and he likes the team’s potential under new coach Jessica Hoaglund.

“We have some seniors that have played for years and underclassmen that have played pretty good,” Gingrich said.

As a forward, Gingrich is ready to have his best soccer season.

“I have very good ball control and I’m very fast,” he said, adding that he hopes to improve on his passing and shooting.

The Bucks have only been practicing since Aug. 8.

“We played as good as we thought we would,” Gingrich said after the first game. “We’ve learned a lot more than in the past couple of years.”

Kissinger is in his fourth varsity season and is leading the way for the Pine River defense.

“She’s working with us well and knows what she’s doing,” he said of Hoaglund.

Kissinger has played defense all four years at Pine River.

Against MCE, “we did very well defending,” he said. “We talked. Everybody was on the ball, playing the ball, not the guy, we did well on that.”

Pine River plays at Houghton Lake on Thursday.

“I think we can go far this year,” he said. ”We can do well and win the majority of our games.”

The key, he added “is communicating and staying together as a team.”

Kissinger also wrestlers but notes that playing soccer is of enormous conditioning benefit.

“Endurance is the key to everything,” he said.