The 2018 boys soccer season produced another crowning achievement for the Lansing Bobcats as the team captured its second consecutive Class C state title.
While the preseason and in-season training is rigorous, as the team builds toward another state crown, it is the offseason that stands out as a true key in the development of the next championship team at Lansing.
There are a number of local spring teams in the area, but none have a bigger impact on the fall soccer season than Lansing United’s U19 squad.
The U19 blends the talent of veteran players and fresh faces from the Lansing soccer hierarchy into one unit that begins its journey to the varsity level.
The spring squad keeps within the overall system at Lansing and uses Bobcats’ Boys Modified soccer coach Brian Streb to usher in the new batch of talented youngsters into starting roles.
As the season is underway, Streb gave a look at what is coming through the pipeline for the Bobcats when the fall season rolls around.
Mark Shelley: How important is it to start finding new roles for players that need to fill in for the seniors that graduated from last year’s varsity team?
Brian Streb: It’s very important to find new roles and fill in the spots that are going to be open. It’s also a great time to experiment with certain players playing in positions they normally wouldn’t be in. When Benji Parkes and I sit down to discuss possible lineups for the varsity team, I can give him a jumpstart as to what to expect in the fall.
MS: You still have some of the seniors playing on the spring team. Why is that an important mix with guys that will be replacing them in the fall?
BS: Having seniors play isn’t so much for their leadership but rather to help balance out the roster. In reality, I want the juniors to be more of the leaders and let the seniors enjoy the ride. In terms of balancing, we have one eighth grader, a few freshmen, and lots of sophomores all playing in a U19 division against competition that can see college kids playing if they’re the right age. The seniors help keep us from getting too exposed in games. However, that can still happen from time to time.
MS: How does the spring schedule jump-start the school’s summer workouts?
BS: When playing spring soccer, it’s a given that these kids are not in match shape, which is fine. However, they are forewarned that if they come into camp out of shape, there’s a higher price to pay. In spring, we are more concerned with shape and movement on and off the ball.
MS: Are there any strategical or schematic changes that differ from the schemes that are implemented at the varsity level?
BS: We play the same formation and have made sure all levels do the same. That way, the kids are comfortable with it when playing at the varsity level.
MS: What is the biggest offseason question that is being answered during the spring?
BS: The biggest question being answered is who is a no-name player now that can step up or possibly be looked upon to step up in the future. As I said, we have both JV and varsity kids playing on this team, and for me to get a look at them allows us another set of eyes to see where these kids are progressing.
While winning results are certainly a key focus of the Lansing United side, the development of talent has become the number-one priority as Lansing hopes to bring home a third state title this fall.
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