By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
FRUITPORT – Heading into the season, the Fruitport soccer team expected to be strong on the offensive end of the field.
The Trojans demonstrated that firepower Tuesday night with a convincing 5-0 non-conference victory over Muskegon Catholic.
“The strength of this team is on the attacking half,” said Fruitport coach Greg Kobylak, whose team improved to 2-2-2 on the young season. “That’s where we have lots of experience and those guys really got it going tonight.”
Fruitport collected two goals apiece from senior Zach Gilson and sophomore Noah Hendricks, plus a single tally from Andrew Frost. Those three, along with their teammates on the attacking end, dominated play from beginning to end, outshooting the Crusaders 19-8.
Dalton Mullennix, Hendricks and Gilson had assists for the winners, who led 3-0 by halftime and never looked back. But even with the offensive fireworks, Kobylak saw room for improvement.
“Too many times tonight we won the ball and gave it right back,” he said. “We didn’t do a very good job of keeping possession. You need to get possession and have at least two or three passes to be successful consistently.”
While Kobylak expected his team to score its share of goals this year, his main concern has been an inexperienced defense. He was clearly pleased with his team’s ability to keep the Crusaders from scoring Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Conner Deneen paced the shutout effort with several big saves on the rare occasions when MCC threatened to score. Kobylak also credited Ben Kramer, Jacob Dyer and and Nathan Sturtevant for their strong play on the defensive end.
“That’s the most satisfying thing as a coach, to be able to see the improvement from week to week,” he said.
Muskegon Catholic fell to 5-2 on the season. Coach Bill Moulatsiotis said playing a bigger school like Fruitport was a good early measuring stick for his team – for this season and next.
MCC will join the Lakes 8 conference next fall, which includes Fruitport and several other schools with strong soccer traditions.
“They’re bigger, strong and faster and we’re extremely young,” said Moulatsiotis, whose team won three games last weekend to capture the title at the Hudsonville Freedom Christian tournament. “We hold Fruitport in the highest esteem as a program. Playing that sort of team will really help us get better for the postseason.”
The score might have been even more lopsided if it hadn’t been for the play of MCC goalkeeper Todd Hall, who made several outstanding saves on shots from close range.