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The Panther Press

The Student News Site of Whitmer High School

The Panther Press

The Student News Site of Whitmer High School

The Panther Press

Whitmer Boys Soccer ‘kicks’ up the heat this season

The+2023-2024+boys+soccer+team+poses+together+for+their+team+picture.
Multi-Shots Photography
The 2023-2024 boys’ soccer team poses together for their team picture.

The Whitmer boys’ soccer team finished strong this fall and achieved one of the most successful seasons in recent program history. The boys varsity soccer team finished their fall 2023 season with a record of 9-8-2, earning 2nd place in the Buckeye Division of the Northern Lakes League (NLL). 

This was the Panther’s first season in the NLL, which has a much higher level of competition than the previous conference, the Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC). Going into the season, these NLL teams were known for their good records and high skill level. This change in competition from previous seasons to this one makes this season’s results much more of an accomplishment. For Whitmer, this season is one of the best recorded seasons in recent varsity program history. 

“There are no losses, just wins and learning,”

— coach S. Zampardo

“I think we proved a lot of people wrong,” sophomore Reizan Mendoza said.

The team, as well as other schools, were not expecting Whitmer Boys’ Soccer to do as well as they did this season. It took the team a lot of work to get to this level of achievement. 

“I think to a point we exceeded our own expectations even though the standard was excellence,” varsity head coach Lydy shares.

Coach Lydy has been involved with the boys soccer program since 2013. As a coach, he wishes to keep the boys motivated and competitive for the future, as well as keep the strong bonds and commitments that made this season successful.

“A lot of guys on the roster had stepped up, worked really hard at practice. Our coaches focused on morale and play style in practice, and it really showed on game day when everyone is playing for each other, playing their hearts out,” coach Lydy explains.

Reizan Mendoza is a midfielder and forward for the varsity team that also connects his hard work to a deep history as a Whitmer soccer legacy. The Mendoza family has a long history with the programs, having many alumni of the girls and boys’ teams. Reizan carries on the family legacy and hopes to have an even better season next year.

“I feel proud to be a Mendoza,” Reizan states. He also shares his views and goals for the future, “the main goal is to keep working and putting in the work during practice. We can get better and just build chemistry with the guys.”

The coaches of the boys’ team this year share similar sentiments and are happy with the program’s trajectory. Impressive moments and pleasing results filled this season, thus providing a new hope for the team’s future. 

“Whether that be their skill level or their commitment, it seems to be progressively growing and improving, and I can’t credit anything other than the community,” coach Lydy explained. “So I’m really pleased with the trajectory of the program, meaning we are now beating some of those perennial powerhouses of boys’ programs in our surrounding area. The school has given us an inch more of support every single year and that’s really all it takes to put us over the edge, so we just keep getting more competitive, and that’s a lot of credit to the kids, the school, and the community for allowing that to happen.”

In addition to the players showing great soccer talents, the increase in community support and inner-program spirit this season majorly contributed to the team’s confidence and success. However, the season ending sooner than they hoped dampened the mood and masked some of that progress.

“Oddly enough, the word ‘disappointing’ [comes to mind] only in that I thought we could’ve done better,” varsity assistant coach Zampardo states in reference to the team’s last game against Bowling Green High School and the ending of the season. “We had a great season and I was looking forward to continuing on. We had some injuries at the end that changed the dynamic.”

So while the season ending so soon dismayed Zampardo, he is more proud and excited for the program. He also is adamant on using the program’s strong culture as a motivator for the boys to be better on the field.

“Foster the environment as much as the tacticals,” coach Zampardo advises. 

The coaches are committed to making the boys well-rounded people just as much as they are dedicated to teaching them how to become better soccer players. The way the season ended might have been slightly disappointing, but the team is still proud and shows promise for the program. Everyone is excited to come back next year and execute what they have learned from this season.

 

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