Blue Devils humble, hungry for district title
Still scoreless at the half, it looked like last night’s rematch between the Almont and Richmond girls soccer teams could be a repeat of the earlier-season tie.
A reminder of last year’s district championship from their coach, however, sparked the Blue Devils into action, starting with a quick goal from sophomore Elizabeth Kocher.
“At half, Coach brought up the fact that we lost [to Almont] in districts and that was our trophy and it really upset us,” senior Kosette Bartels said. “We beat them…last year so we knew we had to get the job done.”
After beating the Raiders twice in the 2022 regular season, the Blue Devils fell to the conference foe 3-1 in overtime of the district championship. All three goals were scored by then-sophomore Jesse Kautz, the BWAC Offensive MVP with 34 goals on the season. Shutting her down was key in last night’s 5-0 victory.
“We double her up and pray she doesn’t get her shot off,” Richmond head coach Steve Schuster said, “because she’s got a cannon.”
Richmond not only displayed disciplined defense, but also an unselfish and widespread offense that allowed Kocher to score two more goals for the hat trick along with a goal from each Rylie Jacques and Annabelle Fair.
“I think we were nervous because last year we lost to them in districts,” Kocher said of the first half. “The nerves [started] going away and we really wanted to win. We were able to relax and control the ball which is key.”
“They were moving the ball well finally…spreading the ball around, sharing it a little bit instead of just one player,” Schuster said. “We don’t have any selfish players. Some of our most skilled players pass too much for me. It’s really just about letting the ball do the work. We’ve got a stellar keeper, a great back line, and the rest takes care of itself.”
Large egos certainly don’t seem to be an issue for this unique Blue Devil team. Made up of five freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors, and just four seniors, they presented strong chemistry with great communication on the field.
“All four years I’ve played varsity sports it’s usually your juniors and seniors that you look up to, but I find myself looking up to the sophomores and freshmen because they’re just so good and they know what they’re talking about,” Bartels said. “It’s unique to have four different ages that just really bond and have good chemistry.”
Bartels said that while she’s sad to graduate and leave the team behind, she’s glad to know the program will be in good hands – or perhaps feet – next season.
"Kosette’s taught me a lot," Kocher said. "She’s been like my big sister for basketball and soccer. She’s taught me to work hard. She always works hard...Even for the future, having a young team helps, but we’ll sure miss our seniors."
For now though, they still have plenty of work to do.
With an 8-0-1 league record, the Blue Devils remain at the top of the BWAC standings with five games to go. Almont stands in second at 7-1-2, making last night’s victory a crucial one in the hunt for a conference title.
“[We have] to stay positive and humble. We have a district that we all want to win and I think staying humble and working hard will be a big part of that,” Bartels said. “Yeah, we’ve done really, really well in our first few games…but I think we need to focus on the goal, and that’s to win the league and the district.”
“I really, really want to win the district this year since we missed out on it last year and we were so close, like I’m still upset about that,” Kocher agreed.
The Blue Devils will travel to Imlay City on Wednesday, May 10, as they begin to wrap up the regular season before district play begins at the end of the month. Almont will be on the road against Croswell-Lexington on Wednesady as well.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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