Chips shoot for breakout season

 

Manistee senior Zac Bonzheim (right) warm up on the first day of practice for the 2015 boys soccer season. The Chippewas look to improve upon last year’s 8-6-2 record and district semifinal finish. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee senior Zac Bonzheim (right) warms up on the first day of practice for the 2015 boys soccer season. The Chippewas look to improve upon last year’s 8-6-2 record and district semifinal finish. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Manistee High School boys soccer program experienced something for the first time in recent memory Wednesday: opening day of practice after a winning season.

The Chippewas finished the 2014 campaign with a record of 8-6-2 and what they view as a premature exit from the state tournament, a 4-3 loss in the district semifinals to Muskegon Oakridge.

This season, Chippewas coach Brandon Prince has the district hardware firmly in his sights.

“To me, as a coach, we could go 0-16 and still win a state title,” Prince said. “What I look for over the course of the season is to improve, game by game, situation by situation, in preparation for the district tournament and to move on further and further.

“I have every bit of confidence in these guys. It’s something that we an definitely achieve.”

Manistee graduated only three seniors from last year’s roster, so the bulk of the team is returning.

“We have guys who showed last year that showed they’re going to be able to step into their roles,” Prince said. “There’s going to be a learning curve, but they will be up to the challenge.”

If the first day of practice is any indication, the program is on a definite upswing. Prince said that he had just 10 players turn up for the first day of practice last year but has 24 this year, and is even entertaining the idea of a junior varsity team, if not this year, then in the near future.

Manistee looks to be rock-solid in the back, and that’s just how the coach likes it.

“I think the defense is going to be strong, but we have some new guys coming in,” Prince said. “There will be some bumps in the road, but I’m confident that we can get there.

“We look to put a zero up on the board and if we get a goal, it’s a win in our book.”

The Chippewas open their 2015 season at home on Monday, Aug. 24, when they host archrival Ludington.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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