The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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Loy Norrix men’s soccer breaks 12-year dry spell by making SMAC “Gold Division”

Credit: KJ Kelly
Loy Norrix men’s varsity receives pre-game talk by head coach Scott Forrester, before heading out to defeat Marshall, 3-1.

The wind blows on your face from the cracked windows on the bus while you’re blasting “Drake” in your headphones and guzzling down electrolytes, in an attempt to calm the pre-game nerves.  After all, you’re starting off your season playing the 2023 edition of the Loy Norrix Knights. 

The Knights have improved  a lot since the 8-11-1 (Win-Loss-Tie) 2022 season, with a 10-7-1 record, earning them a well-deserved seat in the SMAC “Gold Division” —  a feat that hasn’t been achieved at Loy Norrix since 2011. Junior varsity (JV)  head coach, Scott Haas, expected nothing less from the players he coached the year prior.

“Based on the JV team last year, the expectations were higher for varsity this year.  The team is still fairly young and chemistry is still developing. There were a lot of new pieces brought in this season and everyone needed to find their role on the team,” said Haas. “I would say that getting to 10+ wins, gold bracket for SMAC and a district win, was a realistic goal that was accomplished.” 

The Knights lineup had only one senior out of the 11 starters, making them one of the youngest teams in the district. Led by captains Sam Schnell, Mario Asbuery, and Itamar Santos, they overcame the difficulties of a youthful team. Santos expressed that he feels the competition between players played a huge role in their success.

“I think the hard work and the discipline we had, all those team dinners where we got to bond, just made us a stronger unit,” said Santos. “We would compete with each other, make each other better everyday at practice, and when it came to game day, we really focused and gave it our all.” 

Junior Mario Asbuery feels that head varsity coach, Scott Forrester, was a great role model for the young men and put in lots of work behind the scenes in order for the team to be in a better position on game day.

“I think Coach has a lot of influence on what we do. He sets up our formations, he has all our tactics, he analyzes the rival teams and really helps us with what to do on the field,” said Asbuery.

Scott Forrester is a highly experienced coach with many accomplishments, making him a  perfect fit for the team. Prior to coming to LN, Forrester was the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team at the University of Michigan, winning two Big Ten championships. Forrester also coached soccer at Dexter High School, winning 22 district championships, nine regional championships, and even a state championship. Still hoping for Norrix to win a state championship, Forrester says the team met a lot of goals this year that continued to push the program closer.

Getting into the gold division of our conference tournament and then getting third place in it. Beating our team rival was also a goal that was met this year,” said Forrester. 

Many players on the team thought that beating the crosstown rival, Kalamazoo Central, was one of the best moments in the season. Senior Sam Bistrek says the best players can handle the emotion and even elevate their game under the pressure. 

“With all of the stress and anxiety leading up to that game, it’s important to make sure you and your team are relaxed and ready to play,” Bistrek continued, but lucky for us we have a lot of talent on the team that won’t let emotion hold them back.” 

Unfortunately for Bistrek, this was his last rivalry game. At the end of a season, it’s always hard to say goodbye to the wisdom and support the seniors contribute to the team. Although Bistrek is sad to go, his soccer career is far from over and will continue after high school. 

I feel really upset about leaving the team, but at the same time I feel happy, in a way, to start new things in life with soccer that I have planned because my love for the sport will never fade.” said Bistrek. “but it is really sad leaving the team because that was like a second family.” 

After the hard fought season, the Knights will not be taking a break. Players like Cristian Vargas and Itamar Santos will travel for high-level play, as they believe that competition will continually improve their game. 

“I’ll be in the gym everyday, getting extra touches in when I can, putting in that extra work like my teammates right beside me,” said Santos. “With my club season coming up, there’s a lot of good competition.”

“I think playing for our club team [TKO] is going to help us a lot too because there’s a lot of competition, and I feel I get a lot better during club season, so I’ll definitely be a different player when I’m back,” said Vargas.

All the work the team will be putting in during the off season is personal, as many players have a sour taste in their mouth that they will carry into next season with a heartbreaking 3-0 loss to #5 ranked Portage Central, ending the Knights 2023 season.

“I mean odds are always against Loy Norrix you know,” Santos said. “Loy Norrix always has the hardest route, and every other team gets the little easy matches, and we just have to work twice as hard as everybody else. “I feel like we did a really good job this season beating top teams, but it was a disappointing loss to PC. Three mistakes cost us the three goals, and it was mistakes we could have avoided, but soccer’s soccer. You always have mistakes.”

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Cavan Helms
Cavan Helms, Sports Editor
I'm Cavan Helms, the Sports Editor in Knight Life. I joined because this is a great way to express my creativeness and personality through my writing. In my free time I like working out, and playing sports.
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    SaraNov 10, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Well done, Congrats Knights!