For most high school sports teams the pinnacle of the sport is achieved when they stand alone at the end of the season as champions of the state. For the Lansing Bobcats boys soccer team, the 2017 season was culminated with reaching the pinnacle. In 2018, the Bobcats have created a new goal to strive for. Lansing has proven that it is still hungry for more titles.
The 2017 Bobcats battled their way through the long season, growing with each step and finally reaching the highest level. This season has been no different. The Bobcats have been cruising through 2018, picking up big win after big win. To start the season, Lansing helped usher in first year starting goalkeeper Sean O’Callahan with big offensive performances, outscoring opponents 22-0 over the first three games. While the season has progressed O’Callahan has settled into the net for the Bobcats and uses his athleticism and aggressive nature to turn aside opponents’ opportunities.
While O’Callahan holds the last line of defense for the Bobcats, he stands behind a defense that is capable of turning away chances and generating opportunities to move forward. The transition from a defensive stop to an offensive run is often a seamless transition due in large part to the forward thinking of players like Ethan Zemanick and Aiden Huslebosch. The pair of seniors are constantly repositioning to the nearest threat and capable of cutting through the midfield to transition into offensive players. The success of the Bobcats transition play comes from Zemanick and Huslebocsh, because of the awareness and the repositioning of other defenders and midfielders to cover the positions vacated by the seniors as they transition into an attacking role.
As a team, the Bobcats have seen an abundance of offensive success throughout the 2018 season. There is no greater evidence to prove their success than the goal differential that Lansing bolsters. The Bobcats are outscoring opponents by more than 50 goals, a feat that cannot be overlooked by any opponent. In traditional soccer styles, offensive pressure is a slow, manipulative scheme that develops over time to allow for shots on goal. For the Bobcats, slow is a word that is seemingly nonexistent in their offensive vocabulary.
With a midfield that can accurately feed passes into the defensive backfield of opposing teams, the Bobcats rely on speed to generate opportunities. While defense close in on the center of the field, Lansing uses the opportunity to exploit the outside edges and play to the speedsters cutting down the wings. In a two-man attack upfront, the Bobcats see the speed and brilliance of seniors Erik Goehler, the team’s leading scorer, and Langston Hopkins. The senior duo generates chance on the wing and allows for rebounds to be forced in front of the net, a sweet spot for Goehler. The fast-paced, wing style of offense is also propelled by the physical play and quick feet of Sam Panzer and Jason Littlefair, two players who streak to the corners to generate crossing opportunities.
While the well-rounded Bobcats cruised through the opening portion of the season, their hardest tests of the year fell into place in the second half of the season. Lansing has come face-to-face with state-ranked opponents and has stepped up to the test against teams like Trumansburg, Marathon, and Dryden. “Our schedule has worked out in our favor in regard to who we are playing toward the end,” said Lansing Head Coach Benji Parkes. “It all benefits us as we look to the postseason and what we are trying to achieve.”
In preparation for what looks to be another deep postseason run, Parkes understands the importance of playing time and developing backups to be ready to step up when the time comes. “The more opportunities they have to get in and get that game experience, then that makes them that much readier as we go on,” he said. Parkes often looks for the opportunity to work with an 18 to 19 player rotation to prepare for the postseason pressure.
With the aggressive and fast-paced style of play by the Bobcats, a well-rounded and prepared team is a must for postseason success. Faced with the looming 2018 postseason, the Lansing Bobcats are ready to attack the goal and defend their Class C State Championship.
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