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Hard-working Chiefs won’t get out-hustled on pitch this season

 Hard-working Chiefs won’t get out-hustled on pitch this season

Anthony Yono (16) and Alexander Bejczy defend a Rockford player Aug. 19.

A microcosm of what fans of Canton’s boys soccer team can expect this season unfolded during the Chiefs’ opening-round game in Saturday’s annual Balconi Invitational.

With just one returning starter from its 2022 campaign, Canton battled No. 2-ranked Rockford to a 1-1 draw before dropping a heart-breaker decided by penalty kicks.

While less than 100% satisfying, the effort proved Head Coach Mark Zemanski’s squad isn’t about to be out-worked by anybody.

“This team is very resilient,” said Zemanski, entering his 11th season as Canton’s head coach. “We have a group of talented, hard-working players.

“With only one returning starter, though, it’s probably going to take us a little time to gel.”

No cupcakes on schedule

Given the buzzsaw-like competition provided by their Kensington Lakes Activities Association West Division foes (Northville and Salem are among the top six ranked teams in Division 1, according to the Michigan High School Soccer Assocation’s early-season rankings, the Chiefs’ learning curve will be paved with challenges.

Canton junior Nathan Gilmour battles a Rockford player for possession of the ball
Canton junior Nathan Gilmour battles a Rockford player for possession of the ball

But the team’s bring-it-on approach will only accelerated its progression.

“There are no easy games in our division, that’s for sure,” Zemanski said. “Every game will be a dogfight. We’ll have to bring our A game to every game.

“But these guys aren’t intimidated by anybody. Our team is young, but it’s talented and a lot of these players competed in high-level club soccer.”

Canton will be led by senior captains Donovan Thomas, Nick Miller, Brayden Fedulchak and Anthony Yono.

Captains lead the way

“Donovan is a great student, a true leader,” Zemanski said. “He makes sure the boys are playing like they should be playing.

Canton keeper Keegan Creedon goes horizontal for a save
Canton keeper Keegan Creedon goes horizontal for a save

“Nick is a great, hard-working kid. He always has a smile on his face, but he’s a competitor with a ton of talent. He started periodically for us last season.”

“Brayden started most of our games the second half of last season, so he brings some experience. He has an attack-and-fire style and plays with an edge.

“And Anthony is one of our center backs. He has a lot of skills and works hard, like the rest of our captains.”

Junior achievers

Among the Chiefs’ underclassmen expected to make solid contributions are Isaac Yoo, Nathan Gilmour, Bruno Delgado and goal-keeper Keegan Creedon.

“I like the way Isaac really battles for us in the back,” Zemanski said. “Nathan is going to be a really good player. He was injured for much of last season, but he’s 100% now and he will be very successful because of his creativity and work ethic.

“Keegan’s shot-stopping skills are right up there. He made three or four sensational saves that kept us in the game against Rockford.

The Chiefs dropped their KLAA West opener Monday to Northville, 2-1, but better days are ahead for the team that refuses to be outworked.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Canton players form a sea of red defense Saturday against Rockford
Canton players form a sea of red defense Saturday against Rockford
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Ed Wright

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