History is made by the Northwood boys soccer team

J. Patrick Eaken

History was made last week when the Northwood boys soccer team got its first varsity win in program history, 9-0, over Emmanuel Christian.

It was also the program’s first varsity win on its home field, which is the football stadium. Coach John Leonard said “the team was real excited about it.”

“The more we play the better we’ll be. We have more seniors and we have some talent, we just have to get used to playing against the varsity,” Leonard said.

In its first two seasons, the program was mostly club status and played a junior varsity schedule. This year, the Rangers also plan to enter the Division III tournament for the first time.

Leonard has 15 players on his roster, including eight seniors. Three of them have led the program from the very start.

“I’ve got quite a few seniors,. Bryant Ramirez is our center midfielder and he’s been there to the end. He started with the (Northwood Recreation program) and he’s put a lot of effort in and is a great young man and does well,” Leonard said.

“Mitchell Hurley is our goalkeeper. He’s a captain and he has a lot of passion and works on and is always trying to communicate with the team and keep them on the same page,” Leonard continued. “We’ve got Austin Schroeder — he’s a sweeper and he leads our defense. He started with Northwood Rec and been involved in the program and been one of the leaders.

“Although there are a lot of seniors, those three definitely stand out. I’m looking forward to seeing how they play out the season. They are kind of the foundation of the program. There are a lot of younger guys who look up to them, so that is a positive.”

The remaining seniors contributing are Isaac Holler, Welden Hannum, Davonte Sauer, Logan Urbanyi and Armondo Rodri-guez. Filling out the roster is Ethan Clair, Jonathan Hagemann, Carson Gutekunst, Nate Huber, Quentin Long, Matt Laney and Tyler Duprey. 

In the program’s first full varsity season, the Rangers are 1-2, losing to state powerhouses Maumee Valley 9-0 and Ottawa Hills 8-1. Maumee Valley (5-0) is ranked seventh in the statewide D-III coaches poll and Ottawa Hills (2-2) is ranked 10th.

Heading into the Ottawa Hills game Tuesday, Leonard was concerned about how his team would handle it.

“I’m excited for the future. It’s just that right now I’m worried about today’s game,” Leonard said. “We played their JV last year and we played them a man down and we had some injuries, and they beat us pretty good. Right now, we know that they just have a lot more talent and a lot more numbers, but with the way we play it’s just a similar style. It’s just a matter of us giving an effort and getting smart. It’s at home, which is nice. Hopefully we can improve but we know we’ve got our hands full.”

Northwood got a good coach to get the program started — Leonard played high school soccer at Hampton High School in Virginia and then at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. A 5-foot-11, 170-pound forward, he had 11 goals and five assists in 1994 and three goals and nine assists in 1996 playing collegiately.

A Northwood resident, his daughter plays on the Rangers’ varsity girls team.

“When the opportunity came up for the coaching position, I wanted to give it a try,” Leonard said.

The coach is a little concerned about what will happen to the program once this year’s seniors graduate. He’s got some talented underclassmen, but could use more numbers.

“It’s not bad. We are going to lose quite a few seniors,” Leonard said. “That’s the thing next year we are going to have some freshmen, sophomores and juniors but we are going to lose eight seniors, which is pretty tough. 

“But I think the real concern is what’s been going on with COVID and with activities it’s been real tough. They are trying to get the sports going, and hopefully everybody continues to understand it’s good to have physical activity, be outside and have exercise.”

Leonard is hoping that his involvement with Northwood Recreation will provide a feeder system and keep the program healthy.

“We do have Northwood Rec, but they didn’t really have anything in the spring because of COVID,” Leonard said. “I have been involved with that, and that’s something I want to get more involved in. The coaches who are helping these kids, I’d like to give kind of a curriculum on things they need to work on as they get older so they are prepared for high school.”

In addition, the schedule this year is minus at least four games because the Toledo City League postponed sports until October. He’s hoping his team can still reschedule those contests.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get them in. We might get them in a little later in October, but that is October. We have to schedule Waite, Scott and Bowsher, so we’ll see how that goes,” Leonard said.










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