Pine River drops season opener to MCE

LEROY — Pine River is hoping for a competitive season in the boys soccer ranks, although it didn’t quite start on the right footing last Friday.

The Bucks fired out to a 1-0 lead at Custer Mason County Eastern but lost 6-1 in the season opener. It was 4-1 at halftime.

Schroeder Vanderhoof scored for the Bucks, assisted by Cuyler Huffman.

“I think we came out really strong,” said Pine River coach Eric Gebhard. “We came out with some intensity. We scored first, It’s one of those fields, we have a soft field and they have a really hard one and it took our kids awhile to adjust. The second half was really close. We played them pretty even up in the second half. They bounced back and got themselves back in the game.”

Josh Ecker was the goalkeeper for PR.

“He played a strong game,” Gebhard said. “They didn’t have a goal outside of 12 yards. They had two penalty kicks. The other goals were on point-blank shots.”

To get ready for the season, the Bucks played in a 6-on-6 summer league, Gebhard noted.

“I think we’ll be way up from the last couple of years,” Gebhard said.

The Bucks play in the Northern Michigan Soccer League. They have two girls on the team including senior Kaitlyn Armstrong, a defensive player, who will be on the squad for her fourth season.

“I’ve improved a lot,” Armstrong said. “We have a chance of making something good happen.”

Armstrong, who played 6-on-6 during the summer, said she doesn’t mind it that PR does not have a girls team.

“I like the boys team so much better,” she said. “We play real hard.”

Ecker is in his fourth season as a goalkeeper. Before that, he had played forward.

“It was a lot better,” he aid. “I improved a lot.”

Ecker has played in soccer 10 years overall including three years in ASYO. He has high hopes for the 2011 Pine River team.

“We will be a lot better than last year,” he said, adding that defense will be a key for the Bucks to be competitive. “I think we’ll get better as we go on.”

Pine River is home Friday against Roscommon. The game starts at 6 p.m.