2017-10-12 / Sports

Mackinac Island Lakers in Action in Soccer, Volleyball, Cross Country

By Jacob A. Ball

The fall sports season is well underway with the Mackinac Island Lakers competing in soccer, volleyball, and cross-country.

Soccer

The Lakers soccer team, continuing its impressive form from previous seasons, had recorded 11 straight wins until a recent loss, and hold a 14-1 record overall on the season. With only two players graduated, the team brought back considerable experience for its Northern Lights League title defense.

Mackinac Island will play its first game of the league tournament Saturday, October 14, at noon.

Their most recent contest against Harbor Light Christian School Friday, October 6, was an unusual come-from-behind victory for the Lakers who had to battle back to secure a 4-3 victory over the squad from Harbor Springs. Freshman goalie Albert Mosley recorded 14 saves in the game, and Maschelle Kepple and Aaron Riggs had two goals apiece. Riggs and junior Alex Henlin each added in an assist to help the team to continue its winning ways.

Their only loss of the season came during the weekend of Friday, October 29, and Saturday, October 30, when the Lakers traveled to Beaver Island for back-to-back matchups against the Islanders. The games were far more competitive than most previous contests this season, with Mackinac Island needing to battle Friday night to secure a slim 2-1 victory. Henlin and freshman Dominic Morse scored the goals in the game; the two players also recorded an assist each on the other’s goal. Mosley was beaten on a penalty kick, but recorded 10 saves. Coach Mary Patay lauded Mosley for his effort against a tough opponent.

The following morning, Saturday, September 30, the Lakers would be handed their first loss of the season, 5-1 to their Lake Michigan island rivals. The Mackinac Island goal came from Riggs.

“We will regroup and come out on top,” their coach said after the game.

This was exactly what Coach Patay’s squad did, securing a victory Monday, October 2, to clinch a firstplace regular-season finish in the Northern Lights League. On the road at Munising Baptist, the final score would be 4-1 behind a hat trick from Kepple. Riggs would add one more goal and Mosley would save eight attempts on goal to help his team.

“All 22 members of this year’s team put in a lot of hours to get where we are,” said Coach Patay.

The team did not even take the day off Monday, September 25, when Mackinac Island experienced a record high of 83 degrees. Instead, the Lakers met at the Island House pool for an intense, yet refreshing workout.

Volleyball

After a disappointing 2016 season, Lakers volleyball has made impressive strides this year. With a new coach and a very young team, the Lakers failed to record a win last season, but so far this year, the girls have eight victories through 16 games.

This past weekend, the volleyball team traveled to Beaver Island for an overnight doubleheader against the Islanders. The girls would fly home with two more wins. On the first night, Friday, September 29, the Lakers won easily, completing the game in three straight sets to call it an early evening. The next morning Saturday, September 30, the Lakers were tested, as all five sets were needed to secure the win.

The previous game for the volleyball squad, Tuesday, September 26 against Atlanta, a team they had beaten once this season, was another victory for the Lakers. In straight sets, the team won 25-20, then 25- 12, and finished with a 25-19 third set.

Freshman Ella Cowell led the team in scoring with 18 points, including two decisive points to win the second and third sets of the contest, and ultimately the game. Senior Cheyla Shunk added 14 points, followed closely by freshman Brooke Dziobak with 13 points and the final point in the first set. Sophomore Makenna Horricks also had 13 points. Senior Grace Yakuber had 12 points.

During the Lakers’ most recent outing, a close loss to Maplewood Baptist, Coach Jennifer Schrader said she thought the team performed impressively. Their previous matchup had been an uneven contest and the coach was pleased to see her girls compete with more intensity.

“There was much better competition this time around; we made Maplewood fight for it,” she said.

The game started with a 25-18 first-set victory for the Lakers, as the squad worked together. In the middle of the set with the Black Bears closing the gap, Yakuber maintained her serve for several points to place her team firmly back in control. Dziobak would score the winning point to finish the set.

Following this impressive first-set performance, the Lakers began to fade, but continued pushing for the comeback even as Maplewood served up the game point.

Coach Schrader could not be more pleased with the progress made by her players throughout the season.

“The girls have shown incredible improvement not just from last season, but over the course of this season. I couldn’t have asked for more dedication, or to see more growth from all of my ladies,” she said.

She commended her seniors, including Cheyla Shunk, who leads the team in serving accuracy at 92 percent. She said the trust her seniors have placed in their younger teammates is one of the main reasons for the improvement.

Two younger players especially have stood out this season, Cowell and Makenna Horricks, who claimed starting spots for the Lakers. Cowell has stepped up as a setter this year, according to her coach, after their senior setter was needed in another position. To this point, she is setting with 90 percent accuracy. Makenna Horricks, a rookie on the team, had never played organized volleyball, which her coach says is surprising.

“You would never guess it from the natural talent she has brought to our team,” Coach Schrader said. “She quickly picked up a starting position and has been a reliable hitter, passer, and server all season.”

The volleyball team competed in the 15th annual Mackinac Island Volleyball Tournament Saturday, October 7, in the school gymnasium. The event traditionally brings teams from across the state to compete and the Lakers were primed and ready for a much-improved performance.

The final regular-season game will be at home against Vanderbilt Tuesday, October 17, at 5 p.m. Playoffs will begin with the Northern Lights League Tournament Saturday, October 21, in Sault Ste. Marie. If the Lakers advance, they would travel to Cedarville Monday, October 30, for the district playoffs against Cedarville, DeTour, Maplewood Baptist, and Pickford.

Cross Country

The Mackinac Island cross-country team has recorded some impressive results in the first year of competition in many seasons. With only three runners, the team makes up for lack of quantity with quality. Senior Gabe Kromer has yet to finish outside the top-five this season and junior Gabe Hepker has recorded four top-12 finishes and two top-five places. Freshman Dominic Morse has two top-20 places.

Their most-recent result came only hours after all three participated in a Lakers soccer matchup Monday, October 2, to secure a regular season conference championship. The second Eastern Upper Peninsula conference meet at the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Golf Club in Naubinway showed the talent of the runners, given their fatigue. Kromer maintained his excellent form with a fifth-place finish and Hepker came in 11th behind runners from much larger schools: last year, enrollment at Cedarville High School was 90 students, while fewer than 70 children, from kindergarten through high school, attend school on Mackinac Island.

The Lakers also have participated in meets in Cedarville, St. Ignace, and Mackinaw City this year.

At Cedarville Monday, September 18, Morse would finish 18th, his best finish of the season. That Friday, September 21, in St. Ignace, Kromer would have his best performance of the season, finishing the meet in third place. Hepker’s best result of the season came at Pickford Wednesday, August 30, when he came in fourth-place. Kromer did not participate in the Mackinaw City Invitational Thursday, September 28. As a team, the Lakers would take home 12th place at the meet, despite missing onethird of their runners.

Upcoming for the cross-country team is an away meet at Newberry Monday, October 16, at 4 p.m. The season will then finish with the U.P. State Finals in Munising Saturday, October 21, with Mackinac Island scheduled to compete at 12:30 p.m.

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