As the Brighton Boys Soccer Team prepares for districts next week. Great Lakes Post Sat down with Brighton Boys Soccer Coach Mark Howell to preview districts. Brighton starts their road to the playoffs on Wednesday against Detroit Catholic Central at Sloan Field in Brighton.
How do you think your season has gone for you this year?
Howell: As each season is, this year has been a learning experience for our team together. We pride ourselves on trusting the process, preach doing the little things the right way, and understand that playing our best soccer in early October is always the goal and sometimes you have a rollercoaster ride to get there. We have been fortunate to have a lot of success this year playing in arguably the toughest conference in the state, and we look forward to piecing it all together for what we hope to be a long playoff run.
How does playing in the KLAA West help you get ready for districts?
Howell: Any time you can play against teams that help exploit your weaknesses and challenge your mental and physical capacity to compete and win in big games is a huge advantage come playoff time. With the “win or go home” format, every game regardless of your opponent’s ranking, record, or reputation matters equally and can challenge your season-ending which can be a taxing experience to go through. Playing in the KLAA West presents challenges to us each and every game of the season for 14 extremely tough 80-minute battles, and you learn a lot about yourselves, how to win, how to bounce back from a down performance, and how to persevere within a game and from one game to the next. All valuable lessons that you can take on a playoff run.
What impresses you about your team this year?
Howell: Our versatility from one game to the next has been impressive. As we make adjustments or tweak things within the game or between games the guys just roll with it and don’t become overwhelmed. They are also a group that really performs well in times of stress and pressure. Some of our best moments have come when we’ve been down a goal, even sometimes multiple times within a game and we rarely get worn down by a bad moment or tall task ahead.
What’s it likes to have 3 quality goaltenders on your team?
Howell: We are extremely fortunate as a program to have 3 quality goalkeepers. At any time we feel confident in all 3 to perform and to have 3 guys that could potentially be starting on most teams in the state all on your roster at the same time is comforting. The one downfall is finding opportunities to reward all 3 throughout the season as I like to find continuity at that position for your team to build around. I have been extremely proud of how all 3 of them support each other and have handled a potentially very difficult position to be in.
Is it an advantage to hosting districts?
Howell: Anytime you can play a game in front of your home crowd on the field you are most familiar with provides an extra bit of confidence. We love the energy and size of Sloan Field and it’s our home so we are looking forward to hosting this year and hope to play well enough to earn 3 more home games on that field this season.