The 13 seniors on Richmond’s boys soccer team will be graduating with plenty of memories.
Over the last two years, the Blue Devils have captured a pair of BWAC and district titles, becoming arguably the Blue Water Area’s most dangerous team. This year the Blue Devils ended their season with a 16-5-1 record, losing in double overtime against Flint Powers – the eventual Division 3 state runner-up – in the regional semifinals.
Heading the charge of experienced Blue Devils was third-year head coach Lance Whitney, whose leadership propelled Richmond’s season. For the Blue Devils successful season, Whitney is the Times Herald Soccer Coach of the Year – an award he humbly accepted.
“It’s great to get any award for yourself, but when it comes down to it I don’t deserve a lot of the credit – it goes to those boys and how hard they worked every day,” Whitney said.
The players would probably bounce that right back to Whitney, crediting him for getting them ready for big games throughout the season.
“He just knows a lot about the other team and always has us prepared against the other team,” senior goalkeeper Allan Szczesniak said.
When it comes to X’s and O’s, Whitney’s philosophy on the field is centered around efficient possessions with plenty of ball movement. On a team with plenty of skilled players and chemistry, that came to life every game throughout the season.
“We really jelled as a team, and being able to communicate, move the ball and play as a team was our biggest advantage,” Whitney said. “We didn’t have that one player that was an awesome standout. We just had a collection of really, really solid players.”
The next season will be a different chapter in the Richmond soccer era. The Blue Devils accomplished a handful of impressive feats on the field over the years, but looking back, Whitney’s favorite achievement with his players came off the field.
“The biggest thing was being able to take that group I ended up getting as sophomores and watching them develop into a team that’s not only great on the field, but also awesome off the field,” Whitney said. “They’re exemplary students off the field.”