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Farmington Hills

August 21, 2014

Raiders soccer team reloaded and ready for strong 2014

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
From left, captains Alex George and Sam Zapata, participate in a scrimmage last week at North Farmington. The two are part of a contingent of seven starters back.

FARMINGTON HILLS — There had been one official practice in the books.

And to be officially official, it was technically just one tryout.

Still, Michael Horner had known and seen enough to grasp what he had with his 2014 North Farmington soccer team.

And the Raiders’ coach liked it.

“Feeling really good about this team and about this season,” he said last week. “We’ve got some strong players back.”

The Raiders went 7-6-4 a year ago, and that was after a 1-3-0 start.

From that team, seven starters and a handful of key bench players are back in the mix.

“We have a real good nucleus to work with,” Horner said.

The strength for the team remains up front, where a majority of the experience resides.

Last year’s leading scorer, Sam Zapata (11 goals, four assists), anchors the group after earning honorable mention All-State honors in 2013.

“Offense will be the strength,” Horner said. “Jacob Bahm is another guy we have back after he missed all of last year with an injury. He’s a tough, tough player who is really going to help up front.”

Depth is also something to like.

“We’re going to be able to run like crazy and drive some teams nuts with our fresh bodies,” Horner added.

Most of the Raiders’ work right now focuses on the defensive side of things.

Captain Nate Elby will anchor the back line, where most of the inexperience stands.

The team will also have a new goalkeeper for the first time in three years; Paul Thornton and Frank Zak split time between the pipes.

“It’s going to help with Frank back, because he saw some time there a year ago,” Horner said. “We have some other guys on defense that maybe didn’t start but saw some time, and I know will be able to contribute.”

In other words, there are fewer concerns than there is potential.

“This is a team that can do some things,” he added. “We feel like we can compete for a league title, and we want to win the city title. Those are the same goals we set out for every year.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.