By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity boys’ soccer team had one of the best seasons in a long time, going undefeated in its conference and earning a 14-3-2 regular season record.
This year’s team remained almost completely unchanged from last season when it graduated just a single senior. However, Head Coach Lahou Boulnemour said this year’s team came back with a new attitude and hunger from the previous season.
“They came back with a different mentality,” Boulnemour said. “We made some changes in the positions and everyone is in the place where they belong, and everyone did an incredible job.”
Their stellar regular season led to their first win in district play in years against Jackson Northwest. The game was an 8-0 shutout that ended early. Bryce Town opened the scoring for the Bulldogs early in the first half. Vicksburg kept consistent pressure on the goal all night. On one of their early attacks, Josiah McClelland got tripped up deep and was awarded a penalty shot, which he made to make it 2-0. McClelland continued his amazing evening by scoring three more goals, three in the first and one in the second. His second goal of the night was a beautiful header that came on a perfect cross from Mitchell Vandermeulen.
The most notable thing about this year’s squad is how it consistently possesses the ball and applies pressure on the opposing net.
“We worked hard on that possession,” Boulnemour said.
Luke Malocha and Vandermeulen added goals of their own to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead going into the half. Early in the second half, Alex Geiger had a goal called back because it was offsides. He made up for that mistake by driving the ball home a few minutes later during a scrum in front of the net to make the score 7-0.
“These guys are just incredible, they showed what they can do,” Boulnemour said. “They can play physical if it’s a physical game. They can run the ball if they have to run the ball. It’s just a pleasure to watch.”
With about 13 minutes left to play, McClelland drove home his fourth and final goal to end things early. The Bulldogs have had some rough seasons in recent years, which made this playoff win especially rewarding for Boulnemour.
“The credit goes to the kids, they play hard, they work together,” Boulnemour said. “When you have well-behaved and disciplined kids, chances are you are going to have a great team. They listen and they follow the instructions, and it’s really rewarding. And it’s a pleasure to see our kids like that.”
The Bulldogs season ended in the second round of district play in a hard-fought 2-0 loss against Coldwater. The team ended the season with a 15-3-3 overall record.
By Travis Smola