HANNAHVILLE - Emphasis is being placed on fundamentals as the Hannahville Soaring Eagles begin their soccer season.
The Soaring Eagles, who open today at 5 on Beaver Island, have 26 on their roster. More than half, however, are underclassmen.
"We're a younger team this year, but I think we'll be all right," said sixth-year coach Dan Kleikamp. "We haven't been doing a lot of scrimmaging. Instead, we're doing a lot of drills. The younger kids are beginning to understand what to do and where to go. We're trying to get them familiar with their positions. As far as I can remember, this is the youngest team we've had. Although, we have an opportunity to build off it."
Key returners are senior midfielder/forward Sophie Manitowabi and juniors Tallen Boda (forward/midfielder), Myron McCullough (midfielder/defenseman) and J.J. Larson (goaltender), who rolled his ankle in practice earlier this week.
"They've been playing the most of anybody," said Kleikamp. "They'll be taking on a bigger role with our team being so young. Tallen and Myron have taken leadership roles. They're making sure the kids are stretched and ready to go."
Also expected to play major roles are third-year freshman Dave Welling and classmate Doug Frye (midfielder/defenseman).
"Both have been pretty impressive in practice," said Kleikamp. "Dave has a better understanding of the game and is more aggressive this year."
Also showing promise are senior defenseman Kasha Lee and sophomore back-up goaltender Trace Sagataw.
Like the Soaring Eagles, Beaver Island enters the season as an unknown quantity. Kleikamp, however, hopes Hannahville's numbers can become a factor.
"I think Beaver Island is also going to have a young team," said Kleikamp. "It should be a pretty good opening series. It's exciting to see how our younger kids are going to respond. It's also nice to have the numbers because we'll be able to rotate more people, which could come in handy if it gets hot and humid. This will give us a chance to see what kind of depth we do have. Greg (assistant coach Ducheny) and I have been pushing conditioning drills more. I think we'll be stronger and better conditioned than in the past."
After today's match, the teams play again Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
The Soaring Eagles then play their home opener Sept. 12 against Munising Baptist.
"I don't know what to expect from Munising Baptist," said Kleikamp. "We really don't know much about them. But I know we'll have our hands full with Grand Marais and Mackinac Island, and Paradise always plays us tough."
Hannahville also hosts the Northern Lights League tournament Oct. 19.
"This is the first year Hannahville is hosting it that I'm aware of," said Kleikamp. "We're looking forward to playing at home for once. It's always an advantage when you don't have to travel."
Sept. 6-7 - at Beaver Island; Sept. 12 - Munising Baptist; Sept. 20-21 - at Mackinac Island.
Oct. 3 - Big Bay de Noc; Oct. 4-5 - at Paradise; Oct. 8 - at Munising Baptist; Oct. 11-12 - at Grand Marais; Oct. 19 - Northern Lights League tournament; Oct. 21 - at Big Bay de Noc.