In 2009, the Clinton Township Chippewa Valley girls soccer team won a Macomb Area Conference Red Division championship, and it followed that up with a second-place finish in the league in 2010.
But since then, the Big Reds have struggled in the tough Red Division, including a last-place finish a year ago.
So far this season, the Big Reds are holding their own, sitting at 1-3-1 in the league and 3-5-1 overall.
That mark is impressive, given the fact that the roster includes 13 players who are either freshmen or sophomores. Given the youth, coach Gerry Haggarty understands that there may be a learning curve that needs to take place in order for Chippewa to once again be a top contender in the MAC Red.
“Hoping they keep progressing at the same rate,” he said. “We’ve gotten better and better. If we can add to that, we should be pretty solid. We’ll see how the young talent pans out in a couple years. Their attitudes are good. That’s always an important thing.”
Haggarty, who has been at the helm of the girls team for approximately 15 years, has seen enough games in the MAC Red to know that challenging for a top spot in the league isn’t something that happens by accident. He has some ideas as to what it is he would like to see from his players in order to put the program back in a position to compete for league championships.
“Offseason is important to get better,” he said. “I think they have to be more physical players in the league. I think they’re (going to) learn that it’s a physical game (because) you’re playing against older kids, especially at this age. They’ll figure it out as they go. The offseason stuff’s (going to) be really important to their success during the season.”
While coaches can help to instill the kind of work ethic that is required to be successful, sometimes it is the example set by seniors that can have an even greater impact. Haggarty has seven seniors on his roster, including captains Mary Frosheiser and Hannah Chesney, and he thinks they could play an important role in the development of his younger players.
“Seniors have been real patient with the younger kids,” he said. “They have a good work ethic. I think when the freshmen watch and see how they work — it’s something that’s (getting) passed down. The expectations from the seniors get passed down to the freshmen and sophomores, and it just keeps getting passed down.”
Haggarty is hopeful that there are more championship seasons ahead for Chippewa.
“With the exception of, like, (Utica) Eisenhower, most programs go in waves,” he said. “You’re good some years, not as good other years. Hopefully, we’re on the wave that’s going back up.”
Chippewa is next scheduled to be in action at 7 p.m. May 13 in a road game against Utica Henry Ford II.