By Justin Haggerty
And the immediate future looked even gloomier.
Between losing 12 seniors from that team, and former Coach Jeremy Leffring stepping down, it would have been easy for the Sailors to lower their expectations going into the 2015 season.
But so far everything has been going their way.
The Sailors opened their season on Saturday with a big win over Grand Haven, and followed that with an impressive 6-0 victory over perennial power Western Michigan Christian Monday on their home field.
With just seven seniors, the Sailors will depend on a host of juniors this year, including Kevin Quigg, who scored two goals against WMC. Also scoring for the Sailors were junior Caden Anderson, senior Keenan Vanderoord and freshmen Clark Meston and George Deveau.
Deveau also had an assist while senior Tanner Parrett added two of his own.
New Mona Shores Coach Mike Apostle, who has spent the last five years coaching at the junior varsity level, is taking things slowly, despite his team’s exciting start.
“We take it minute by minute, day by day,” Apostle said following the big win over WMC. “This conference is typically hard, we’ll see if we grow and improve.
“Districts are still going to be difficult, we definitely have a lot of things to work on.”
For WMC, Monday’s game was a learning opportunity.
The Warriors, who advanced to the state semifinals last year, lost 12 seniors from that great team. But they are determined to improve as quickly as they can this season.
WMC’s new independent status, following the dissolution of the River Valley Conference, has allowed Coach Dave Hulings to schedule tough teams from bigger schools – like Mona Shores.
“We purposely want to play some really, really good teams,” Hulings said after WMC’s first game of the season. “(Mona Shores) has already shown, by beating Grand Haven, that they’re a pretty good team.
“We purposely tried to beef up the schedule this year, we’re not in a conference so we can drop some really weak teams. That’s going to expose us a little bit in the beginning.”
That was certainly the case on Monday.
Mona Shores opened the scoring in the first minute when Vanderoord took a Parrett pass on the right wing and sent it into the top left corner of the goal.
The Sailors struck again in the 27th minute when Meston blasted a rebound past WMC goalkeeper Chris Visser to make it 2-0 Mona Shores.
Play was halted in the 28th minute when Visser took a shot in the face and had to be escorted off the field, reportedly with a broken nose. He was replaced in goal by senior Mike Merz.
Deveau capped the first half scoring with 6:25 to play to give the Sailors a 3-0 halftime lead.
The second half was largely uneventful until the 25th minute with Mona Shores was awarded a penalty kick after a Sailor was taken down inside the box.
Quigg made no mistake, blasting the ball into the top right corner to put the Sailors up 4-0.
Just four minutes later, Deveau made a nifty pass from the left wing to Quigg, who deked the goalkeeper and punched it into the low left corner.
“It was the best pass I’ve ever gotten,” Quigg said after the game.
With six minutes to play, Anderson had a breakaway down the right wing and made a hard shot from deep in the box to the low left corner to cap the scoring.