Metro Detroit girls soccer: Unbeaten Belleville making a statement
Belleville — When the Belleville girls soccer team stepped onto the pitch for their first game of the season, an aura of unfamiliarity surrounded the squad.
A sophomore started her first high school game at forward. Captains Allison Osborne, Olivia Newman and Laura Montgomery added experience. Coach Bill Cline said he wasn’t sure if the girls knew each other's names.
Belleville proceeded to blitz Franklin 5-0. It hasn't lost a single match thus far.
“We were able to put five goals away in the second half (of the season opener) once we got a better idea of how each of us like to play,” Newman said. “From then on, it’s just been (that) we are all on the same page, we’re working together, finding each other where we want the ball and able to get the results.”
Belleville’s second season playing in the Kensington Lakes Athletic Association has opened with a bang. Belleville is 7-0-1 with 44 goals scored and only one goal allowed. The one goal came in a 1-1 tie against Livonia Stevenson.
Belleville has its sights set on a conference title and their first district championship after finishing third in the KLAA East in 2019.
“They’ve really come together," Cline said. "We’ve got excellent leadership. Our captains are doing a great job. And the girls have a good work ethic. It’s really a fun group to work with.
“I think they’re really starting to live up to their potential.”
As a senior and captain, Newman took that on herself to make sure her season – one she wasn’t sure she’d get – went according to plan and potential. The senior has six goals as of May 3 and plays center midfield, the position that links the defense and attack on a soccer team. She acts as the de facto point guard.
Newman sends out forms about what teammates think they can improve upon and leads drills at practices. She’s attempting to take advantage of the opportunity she’s been given as a senior. It's something her former teammate, Lauren Marshall, who now plays at Spring Arbor University, didn’t get.
“It’s been a lot of fun," Newman said. "I know two years ago when we first got into this league … Stevenson actually (mercy ruled) us both times we saw them. We were able to get a tie this year. Dearborn beat us as well and we got a win out of that game. It was just really exciting to see all of our improvements as the season goes on and all the wins are racking up.”
History on their mind
Cline said his team is devoid of a glaring weakness. That’s not something he usually sees, even when his program won four straight conference titles in its last four seasons in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference.
Conference championships are the first step in the chart of season goals, both Newman and Cline said. But Belleville has never won a district championship. That’s something the entire program is hoping to do this season.
“Our second goal would be to win our district, which Belleville has never done. So that’s something really important for us to focus on,” Newman said. “(It’s important to) just find every opportunity to get work in because everybody else is working just as hard. We need to outwork them.”
That goal is driven by the completeness, Cline said.
“I think that with this team, I feel like we just don’t have a real weakness. We’re solid on defense, we've got an excellent goalkeeper, our midfield (is) strong, our forwards are good,” Cline said.
Strengths are evident throughout.
Goalie Gabby Revels has given up only one goal. Osborne, the senior captain, leads the team with nine assists. Breanna McCluskey has netted seven shots this season. But the major bright spot has been sophomore Molly Cote. Cote has not only led the team in scoring, but has splashed onto the Metro Detroit prep soccer scene as one of the best forwards in the KLAA.
She rattled off 11 goals in a stretch of four games and has 13 total with three assists heading into Belleville's matchup with Livonia Churchill. It’s her first season playing high school soccer after the 2020 campaign was canceled.
“She’s extraordinarily talented," Cline said. "We saw that immediately last year as a freshman … in fact she would’ve been starting last year on varsity as a freshman."
Cote along with sophomore Rachel Riley, who has seven goals, have brought a young upside to the team.
Belleville's present and future appear bright.
“We still have a lot of ahead of us,” Cline said.
Joe Dandron is a freelance writer.