BYRON — Byron had its best girls soccer season ever last spring, producing 14 wins. This year, the Eagles and returning All-Area Player of the Year Amay Ciszewski are looking to build off that success.
Ciszewski — a speedy, relentless forward who has signed to play soccer at Concordia University in Ann Arbor next year — needs just one more goal to match Rachel Hillaker’s career scoring mark of 76 set in 2011. Ciszewski scored an area-high 36 goals in 2017 with 10 assists.
“I’m just really hoping to leave it all on the field,” Ciszewski said. “It’s my senior year, I know I’ll be at college (next year) so obviously high school and college will be a lot different. I really enjoy high school. I’m going to miss it but I just want to leave everything out on the field.”
Byron finished 14-6-1 and placed third in the Genesee Area Conference tournament last spring. Head coach Greg Williams said the team is relatively young, but talented. The team returns 10 players, including six starters.
“We have a strong nucleus surrounded by a bunch of young players with lots of potential,” Williams said. “I think we might struggle a bit in the first part of the season. But with the athletes we have I believe we will improve rapidly. We’ll see how it goes, we’ve had some abbreviated practices the first week.”
The Eagles have other weapons besides Ciszewski, including sophomore midfielders Emily Williams and Hunter Luke; junior goalie Abigail Glass; and senior defenders Riley Gadola and Bayleigh Wiley.
“We definitely have a lot of new players, players who haven’t played a lot, so I’m definitely looking for just improvement and everybody coming together as one, just connecting on the field,” Ciszewski said. “Winning districts would be awesome. Also, we’re close to 100 career wins for our coach.”
Gadola, a senior, will be one of the defensive leaders for the Eagles.
“We had one of our best seasons ever last year but we have a lot of new players this season,” Gadola said. “We’re just, at this point, trying to get them all used to playing and combining with the team.”
Glass said Byron’s defense will be strong with the return of Gadola and Wiley on the back end.
“We also have an experienced younger player coming up and then we have a freshman on the outside,” Glass said.
Here is a quick glance at the area girls soccer teams. There are seven teams this season as Chesaning will not field a girls varsity soccer program due to low numbers.
2018 GIRLS SOCCER PREVIEW
Last Year: 14-6-1, third GAC tournament
Coach: Greg Williams (12th season)
Key Returners: Amay Ciszewski, Sr., F; Emily Williams, So., M; Hunter Luke, So., M; Abigail Glass, Jr., GK; Riley Gadola, Sr., D; Bayleigh Wiley, Sr., D.
Outlook: Ciszewski, a senior forward, returns after capturing Player of the Year honors. Ciszewski scored 36 goals in 2017 and will be joined by several other key returners. The Eagles were sidelined in last year’s district semifinals by Lake Fenton, 8-1.
Roster: Alison Slackta, So., M.; Jenna Goodrich, So., M.; Amay Ciszewski, Sr., F.; 5 Abby Hooley, Sr., D; 6 Katherine Aurand, Fr., M; 7 Hunter Luke, So., M; 8 Emily Williams, So. MF/G; 11 Danielle Carrico, So., D.; 12 Allison Glass, Fr., F/G; 15 Hailee Smith, Sr., M; 16 Emily Aurand, So., D; 17 Bonnie Vergin, Fr., M; 18 Janine Rauch, Sr., F. 19 Brianna Chapman, So., F; 24 Kassady Wiley, Fr., D; 25 Abigail Glass, Jr. G/D; 40 Riley Gadola, Sr., D; 62 Alyssa Chapman, Sr., D; 88, Emma Kristensen, Sr., F; 99, Bayleigh Wiley, Sr., D; Coach Greg Williams.
Last Year: 5-13, sixth GAC Tournament.
Coach: Brandon Wagner (seventh season)
Key Returners: Ila Tuller, Jr., M; Payton Rhyne, Jr., F; Ruth Crabtree, Sr., GK; Jaylee Carpenter, So., D.
Key Newcomers: Alex Ostman, Sr., M/F; Mathea Gundersby, Sr., M.
Outlook: Corunna returns 13 players with varsity experience. The Cavs will also feature two foreign exchange students, Alex Ostman (Sweden) and Mathea Gundersby (Norway), who should contribute right away. “We’re looking to take a big step forward this year,” Wagner said. “We have a chance to leapfrog a couple of teams in the GAC this year.” Corunna is hoping to win 10 or more games this season and improve its goal differential by 15 or more, Wagner said. Tuller was named the team’s MVP last season. Other key returners include Rhyne, who led the team with 12 goals, and Crabtree in net.
Roster: 17 Ruth Crabtree, Sr., G/F; 22 Leah Clough, Jr., G/M; 4 Jayden Rhyne, Jr., M; 5 Erin Mandley, Sr., M; 7 Mathea Gundersby, Sr., M; 8 Kalani Edwards, Sr., M/D; 9 Madison Witt, So., D/M; 10 Payton Rhyne, Jr., M; 11 Ila Tuller, Jr., M.; 12 Jacquelyn Giordano, Jr., M/D; 13 Lauren Knight, Jr., D; 14 Kaylea Aurand, Sr., F; 15 Ashley Judd, Sr., D; 16 Jaylee Carpenter, So., D; 18 Cydnee Smith, Sr., D; 20 Alex Ostman, Sr., M; 21 Andrea Crawford, Sr., M; Coach Brandon Wagner.
Last Year: 6-13, fifth GAC Tournament
Coach: Marc Smith (first season)
Key Returners: Ally Burr, Sr., D/F; Alexa Hensel, Sr., D/F; Cameron Counterman, Sr., D; Tori Fox, Sr., GK/M/F.
Outlook: Marc Smith takes over for long-time coach Floyd Lincoln at Durand. Smith played soccer for the Railroaders in 1993 and graduated from Durand in 1996. He coached youth soccer for eight years before volunteering to coach Durand’s middle school girls team in 2014. The following fall he coached the Durand junior varsity girls and then the junior varsity boys in 2016. “I have wanted to coach in the high school program for many years,” Smith said. “To now be back coaching on the same field I played on is an amazing experience. Thanks to coach Lincoln, the facility has drastically improved since my time as an athlete here. I’m looking forward to many years of coaching girls soccer for Durand.”
Roster: 2 Justice Lawrence, Jr., F; 3 Linsey Carlson, Jr., D/F; 4 Sydney Harden, Jr., D; 5 Julia DeYoung, Jr, GK; 6 Katie Domby, Sr.; 7 Alicia Doyle, Sr.; 8 Anna Church, Jr., D; 10 Ally Burr, Sr., D/F; 11 Olivia Sampson Jr., M.; 12 Lilly Scripter, Fr., M; 13 Alexa Hensel, Sr., D/F; 14 Macy Friend, Fr., M; 15 Autumn Wurtz, Jr., D/F; 16 Cameron Counterman, Sr., D; 17 Emily Harzell, Jr. D/M.; 18 Autumn Fix, Jr./M; 21 Kelsey Garner, Sr.; 22 Tori Fox, Sr., G/M/F; Coach Marc Smith.
Last Year: 7-6-1, independent
Coach: Graham Lockwood (second season)
Key Returners: Sophie Wilsey, Sr., D; Cassidy Ballard, Sr., CM; Emily Soeltner, Sr., D; Olivia Graham, Jr., CM; Georgia Hill, Jr., F.; Ali Smith, So, D/CM; Myia Danek, So., GK.
Key Newcomers: Grace Graham, Fr., F; Emilie Saint Amour, Fr., D/CM; Hayleigh Mertens, Fr., D/F; Emma Heyd, Fr., D/F.
Outlook: Laingsburg returns five juniors and three seniors. The team will be led by All-Stater Sophie Wilsey, who will anchor the defense after scoring 18 goals with 11 assists a year ago. “I think we have a very strong core of players,” said Laingsburg second-year coach Graham Lockwood. “Add that to the incoming freshman, whom I believe are ready to contribute, gives us a very positive outlook this year.” Since the Central Michigan Athletic Conference does not feature soccer as a sport, Laingsburg will play an independent schedule again.
Roster: 1 Myia Danek, So., G.; 2 Grace Koenig, So., G/F; 3 Riley Lawson, So., D; 4 Alli Smith, So., D; 5 Olivia Graham, Jr., M/F; 6 Shaily Baynes, Fr., F; 7 Abby Kirkbride, Fr., M; 8 Grace Graham, Fr., G; 9 Mariah Byrnes, So., F; 10 Emma Heyd, Fr., D/F; 11 Chloe Rivard, Jr., M/G; 13 Ava Morrison, Jr., F.; 14 Sierra Price, Fr., M/F; 16 Hayleigh Mertens, Fr., D; 20 Georgia Hill, Jr., F; 21 Sophie Wiley, Sr., M; 26 Emilie Saint Armour, Fr., D; Coach Graham Lockwood.
Last Year: 3-13
Coach: Krista Chamberlain (second season)
Outlook: The Ramblers opened the 2018 season with an 0-2 record, falling 9-0 to Byron and 3-0 to Stockbridge. The team will have to find replacements for Sarena Manee and Logan Warfle, who both graduated after posting honorable mention All-Area seasons in 2017. Underclassmen who contributed last season that should return include goalkeeper Morgan Chamberlain, junior Gracie Ohlmer and senior Erica Kiger.
Roster: None provided.
Last Year: 6-10-1
Coach: Chris Bird (ninth season)
Key Returners: Anna Raffaelli, Sr., M; Janae Voss, Sr., F; Lauren Stowe, Jr., D; Claire Drake, So., M.
Outlook: Owosso will feature several new players in 2018, but is still anchored by senior midfielder Anna Raffaelli (13 goals, nine assists in 2017). “We’re looking for a fresh start this season, with only six returners,” Bird said. “We look to improve upon last year’s (league record) as our team is off to a strong preseason start.”
Roster: 10 Claire Drake, So.; 7 Lily Espinoza, So.; 3 Autumn Marrihew, So.; 2 Jaycie Crites, Jr.; 4 Sarah Dockey, Jr.; 1 Izzey Newbury, Jr., G; 19 Lauren Stowe, Jr.; 6 Nyah Rott, Jr.; 20 Hannah Norton, Sr.; 14 Rebecca Jones, Sr.; 9 Kayla Manley, Sr.; 12 Allison Perry, Sr.; 8 Anna Raffaelli, Sr.; 13 Janae Voss, Sr.; Coach Chris Bird.
Last Year: 12-5, (7-2-1 TVC West, second)
Coach: Craig Thelen (10th season)
Key Returners: Josie Nash, So., F.; Raygan Fluharty, So., CM; Keegan Trefil, Sr., CD.; Kylee Sevenski, Jr., F.; Alexis Kusnier, So., GK; Kaylee Sutliff, So., CM.
Key Newcomers: Lauren Palus, So., CD.
Outlook: Raygan Fluharty, Josie Nash and Keegan Trefil were all first-teamers in the TVC West as well as all-district selections on a team that finshed second in the conference. Nash scored 27 goals as a freshman from the forward position and could be even better this spring. Ovid-Elsie head coach Craig Thelen said Alma is the favorite to win the TVC West title, but Ovid-Elsie and Hemlock will also be strong. “I feel that it will be a three-horse race. It will be tough to dethrone Alma after they only lost one starter,” Thelen said. “We are a young team, but I think that we are eager to prove ourselves and get back on top. We return six key players and will be a tough team to beat as we have some nice talent coming up to the team this year.”
Partial Roster: Raygan Fluharty, So., CM; Josie Nash, So., F; Keegan Trefil, Sr., CD; Kylee Sevenski, Jr., F; Alexis Kusnier, So., GK; Kaylee Sutliff, So., CM; Kiana Henning, Sr., D; Vivian Cole, Jr., W; Madilyn Bancroft, Jr., W; Katie Davis, Sr., W; Lauren Palus, So., CD; Coach Craig Thelen.