Gielczyk: League Title Within Reach for Boyne City

Boyne City is just one win away from securing its first ever Lake Michigan Conference title in girls soccer with two league games left.

To say this development is unexpected is an understatement.

Second-year coach Eduardo Fantozzi starts seven freshmen, and all of them have played major roles on the team both in scoring and defense.

“It’s a treat to watch to be honest with you,” Fantozzi said.

Fantozzi coaches a youth soccer program in Boyne City and was able to work with the freshmen throughout the summer months.

Now it’s paying dividends as the Ramblers (12-0-4) stand on the threshold of closing out the conference on top of the mountain.

“You could call it a perfect storm for a coach,” said Fantozzi. “There are four or five of the freshmen who have great experience at a high level. You have a bunch playing at different tiers and played older players.

“They’ve handled the physical part of the game. We’ll see when crunch time comes whether they can handle the mental part of the game. They’ve never beaten the teams they’ve beaten in school history so it’s been fun.”

Included among the Ramblers’ achievements this year is a win and tie against perennial league power Elk Rapids and they’ve knocked off Harbor Springs twice.

No one thought any of this possible at the beginning of the season. But as Fantozzi says it’s a solid team.

With two good goal scorers, a great midfield and a very strong defense with a stout goalkeeper the Ramblers have a good recipe for success. Especially in high school soccer. The starting 11 are all very athletic and have good feet.

A set of twins, Jordan and Taylor Noble lead the Ramblers in scoring. Taylor Noble leads the team in scoring with 20 goals, while Jordan Noble has scored nine goals and added nine assists.

But there is good balance with Alley Harrick contributing five goals, Inanna Hauger and Emily Sterling chipping in three apiece while Saylor Caverly and Ariel Himmerlspach each have two tallies. The Ramblers have scored 52 goals as a team.

“We’ve had some really decent scoring from everybody, but those two (the Noble twins) have scored a lot of goals,” Fantozzi. “In tight matches they’ve broken down the defenses and put us ahead.

“The last game against Harbor Springs we went into the second half down a goal and ended up beating them 3-1, and they just ended up breaking them down. They’re good players, they’re good goal scorers.

“It opens up opportunities for other people as well because when you’re worried about those two they can hurt you by passing.”

Hauger gives the Ramblers a stout center mid who is adroit at winning the ball and distributing it effectively, while also being a scoring threat with an accurate shot from anywhere on the field. Center back Harrick gives the Ramblers a solid back line.

“Those four girls control the game,” the coach added. “It might seem odd to say about freshmen. But, they learned a lot over the summer playing against players who have been playing varsity ball for a couple years.”

Cora Hauger is the Ramblers starting goalkeeper and has an 86.2 save percentage for the season with 25 saves. Backing her up is Gabby Musser.

With the Ramblers getting valuable experience playing club soccer over the summer they’ve been able to surprise some people, maybe most, with their ability to play at a consistently high level all season.

“These girls love to play soccer and they go out and do what they need to do,” Fantozzi said. “They’re not afraid of anybody. They respect everybody, but they’re not afraid of them.

“I knew the coaches knew that we would have a good group. I thought that they would take us a little bit for granted at the beginning. Now, we’re in the second half of our season and the other teams know what to expect.”

And that makes the postseason more challenging.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at ggielczyk@jackpine.net for story ideas. 

Categories: Girls Soccer