Youthful Houghton Lake Preps for Regionals

HOUGHTON LAKE – As one of the youngest northern Michigan girls soccer programs remaining in the postseason, Houghton Lake is brimming with confidence as it heads into Tuesday’s Division 4 regional semifinal.

With 13 underclassmen leading the way, the Bobcats picked up wins over Big Rapids Crossroads (8-0) and tournament host McBain Northern Michigan Christian (4-0) in the finals of last week’s district championship.

Now, Houghton Lake will face its toughest opponent this postseason when its takes on Elk Rapids at Big Rapids Crossroads on Tuesday.

“It’s not one individual doing everything,” Houghton Lake coach Darren Barnes said. “We’ve got 15-16 girls that are playing right now and they all play well together. They move the ball well, pass well and shoot well. We kind of do everything pretty good.”

The Bobcats (17-3) will face a perennial force in seventh-ranked Elk Rapids. After falling to Montrose in a shootout in last year’s Division 4 regional final, the Elks are fresh off capturing their second district title and rolling at the right time, posting wins over Suttons Bay (9-1), No. 6 Harbor Springs (3-0) and Glen Lake (3-0) in district play.

As the Bobcats prepare for what on paper is a daunting task, they do so with confidence.

“Most of the team is sophomores and that’s the group that has played together since fourth grade,” Houghton Lake sophomore Sarah Barnes said. “We just know where we’re going to be, and we talk with each other. We don’t get made at each other. We just have a really good chemistry.”

Tuesday’s regional semifinal is slated for 5 p.m. The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face either No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel or No. 16 Muskegon Catholic Central for the regional title on Friday.

Categories: Girls Soccer