Reed City, Pine River soccer teams set for district opener

Reed City soccer coach Chris Maddox (right) talks to a player during a practice earlier this season. (Herald Review file photo)

Reed City soccer coach Chris Maddox (right) talks to a player during a practice earlier this season. (Herald Review file photo)

REED CITY – Reed City and Pine River will be hosting boys soccer district first-round district games on Wednesday.

Reed City is home at 5:30 p.m. against Hart.

“We are not where we wanted to be,” Reed City coach Chris Maddox said. “We have met some of the goals, but not all. Coming into the season, we knew a couple of things. We were going to be young, and the conference was going to be tough. Both have been true during the course of the season.

“We are in a tough district. Shelby was in the district championship game last season, Big Rapids isn’t a stranger to championships. Those two teams will be tough to beat. “We need to play perfect, and hope they falter along the way. Manistee, Benzie, Hart and Kingsley cannot be counted out. They all possess the ability to play.”

As for his team’s Wednesday opponent, “we played Hart a couple weeks ago and lost to them,” Maddox said. “They are fast, organized and play tough. If we can work on the things we saw with them, hopefully we can come out on top.”

Maddox has had some impressive play in recent weeks.

“Ayden Eccles, he has been really working into his role which is whatever we need. He works hard and does what he is asked,” Maddox said. “Jordon Lofquist continues to play solid minutes in the goal for us. He has stepped up huge with several big plays for us all year.

“Porter Selfridge and Raymond Penney have both been huge for us on defense. They are making the plays when needed and covering a lot of ground while doing it. They know how to use one another and help everyone out.”

Pine River

Pine River’s first-round game will be against Suttons Bay at home.

“Our season has been quite the rollercoaster ride,” Pine River coach David Fisher said, “from all of the COVID challenges including making the players compete with masks on the field, MHSAA shutting down the football season which led to us adding five players to our roster, then the MHSAA reinstating football and losing four of them back to football and one to injury.

“We have experienced injuries to three of our starters for a significant part of the shortened season. We finally have everyone back and healthy. We have continued to show growth throughout the season and are a completely different team from the one that started the season. This is a very different Pine River team.”

As for the postseason, “we have a very tough district. We have Leland, Glen Lake, Buckley, and McBain Northern Michigan Christian in our district,” Fisher said, “all of which are historically very tough teams and this season is no different. The winner of this district has the capability to make a deep run into the tournament.

“In our first district game we will be playing Suttons Bay at home. Suttons Bay (6-10-1) is a good team who is in a pretty tough conference. They beat Buckley earlier in the season 1-0 and lost a close game to Leland 1-0. We played them in a tournament early in the season and lost 5-1. They have a good goalie who has really stepped up for them in the big games.”

Fisher has been pleased with his team overall.

“Our whole team has been stepping up the last couple of weeks and things are starting to come together for us,” Fisher said. “Everyone has shown such improvement in their game, I hate to leave anyone out of being recognized for their contribution to the team. Lukas Fisher, our junior captain, has really been stepping up his game this season. Lukas is a leader on and off the field for our team. Lukas has been asked to play every position for us this season, including goalie, and has done a great job at each one of them.

“His primary position is sweeper but has still managed to be one of our leading scorers. Senior captain Bryce Wanstead has been stepping up his game lately and is becoming an important part of our offensive attack. He is doing a great job providing leadership for our underclassman and positively encouraging them both in games and practice. Freshman Midfielder Nathan Marks has been a great addition to our team this year providing us both defensive power as well as helping to lead our scoring attack.”

It's been a rewarding season for Fisher’s team so far.

“From what I have seen, we are the only school in our area that has a co-ed team,” he said. “We have nine boys and seven girls on our team. Our girls have almost been a secret weapon for us. Other teams underestimate their speed and/or aggressiveness and are quite surprised when they have the ball stolen, or when our young ladies win the ball from them. I have heard many positive comments about their ability to go shoulder to shoulder with the boys and hold their own.

“I have coached a lot of teams in a number of sports over my 30 plus years of coaching. This one may not be the most talented team I have ever coached but they are one of the most fun, hard-working teams I have ever coached.”