USA boys soccer will take more experience into 2021 season

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SEBEWAING – After the Unionville-Sebewaing Area boys soccer team lost their district opener at Essexville Garber earlier this week, head coach Kevin Kuhl had one thing to say to his team, whose season has just ended.

“I told them to be proud of themselves,” Kuhl said.

And they should be proud. The Patriots, a young team, finished with an overall record of 6-3-1 and a league record of 4-2. The one thing Kuhl said he’ll take away from the 2020 season is the amount of growth he’s seen in many of his players.

“Some of the players that are starting for us this year didn’t see a lot of playing time last year,” he said. “They ended up playing huge for us. That gives us a lot of positive things to look forward to next year.”

Two short months ago, the question of whether high school sports would even be played in Michigan this fall was still unanswered. The Patriots opened the season on Sept. 8 with a 4-1 win over Caro and had a record of 3-0-1 by the middle of the month, then USA would lose two in a row before reeling off three straight victories.

The team was optimistic heading into the postseason, but District 3 contains some formidable teams, and Kuhl knew his team had a challenging road ahead of them.

“You’re going to have to get past Flint Powers and Frankenmuth, so it’s a tough district,” he said.

Kuhl said one thing his team battled in 2020 was a lack of experience. His starting lineup featured five underclassmen, and many games featured opponents consisting of all juniors and seniors. The uneven matchups would often prove to be the difference in the final score.

“We just didn’t have the muscle to stay with some of these larger teams that have more experienced players,” he said. “Our younger guys played very well, but it’s just not enough when you put a freshman against a senior. In most cases, the senior is going to win.”

The game at Garber was a perfect example. Kuhl said it was a close, back-and-forth game for most of the contest, but Garber’s speed was just too much for the Patriots to counter, and the Dukes pulled away for the victory. Adam Maust scored the Patriots’ lone goal, and Nehemiah Parmenter made 17 saves.

“That was probably one of the best games we played start-to-finish,” Kuhl said. “We knew we were going to have to play our best game to stay with them, and we did. We let down just a hair, and they capitalized.”

The team will lose six players to graduation at the end of the year, including Parmenter, Evan Goslin and Bentley Alderson. In 2021, the Patriots will rely on players like Brady Wiederhold, Adam Maust and Josh Urich to lead the way.

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