On the eve of the varsity soccer team’s biggest game of the season, their parents surprised the team with a bonfire, cheerleaders, the junior varsity team and some good, old-fashioned team spirit.
Chelsea hosts Dexter today, Oct. 11, in the SEC title game, and Chelsea is on the hunt for its first regular season win against the Dreadnaughts in seven years.
Shawn Hayes, in his fourth year as the varsity coach, said the team’s 10-7-1 record is the best one the team’s had in many years as it heads into the last regular game of the season.
“This game means everything to us,” he said Wednesday night. “It’s been seven years since we won a league title.”
Chelsea surprised Dexter, a perennial soccer powerhouse, during an early season tournament game, coming home with a victory against the crosstown rivals. But it’s been years since the Bulldogs defeated the Dreadnaughts during the regular season, and the parents thought this surprise was a great way to change the tides.
Hayes said this year’s team has been the strongest group of players he’s coached and they’ve been very focused during practice this week.
To chants of “Beat the D,” and “Sink the Ship,” the 21-member Bulldog team got fired up around a bonfire while the cheerleaders and parents joined in the rally cries.
Led by senior team captains Nick Brodbeck and Adrian Schuh, one by one the seniors on the team expressed just how much this game meant to them personally and to the team.
Although the team has already qualified for the districts and will play Milan on Monday, they were determinedly focused on Thursday’s game.
In addition to the captains, the team is comprised of junior Ryan Hilbert, Junior Keith Hoeflinger, junior Blake Salgat, senior Kevin Fournier, junior Jon Steigerwald, senior Drew Simons, senior Craig Keyes, senior Sean Rohlman, junior Aidan Fahle, junior Luke Heumann, senior Bret Croskey, junior Jacob Becker, senior Karl Fischer, junior Brian Wellman, junior Chad Vredeveld, freshman Nic Arons, senior Alan Longworth, junior Michael Beneteau and sophomore Ben Valek.
“We’re excited about tomorrow,” Hayes said Wednesday night, “and possibly playing Dexter a third time this year.”
Chelsea and Dexter are on different sides of the district bracket and if both teams continue on course, they will clash in the finals of the district tournament.
Show your Bulldog pride today and cheer on the JV soccer team at 4 p.m. and the varsity team at 5:30.
“This is the only game of the season,” Hayes said, and the players agreed.
The soccer parents plan to make this bonfire on the eve of the Dexter game an annual event for the team, while the players plan to “leave everything on the field,” during the big game.