One-loss Badger looks for success in tournament

KINSMAN — Leadership and experience will be an asset for Badger heading into the Division III Gates Mills District boys soccer tournament. The Braves enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed.

“The seniors have been there before, and they are just going to try to lead the boys the best that they can,” Badger coach Justin Deraway said. “They have a few years of experience, and they are looking to do good things in the tournament this year.”

Kirtland is the top seed in the tournament. Badger (13-1) plays its first tournament game Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. at home against Maplewood or Andrews Osborne School.

With nine returning starters, Badger will look to improve on a successful 2017. One of those returning starters is All-District forward Damon Luchette who has 28 goals and 12 assists. He will look to lead Badger into the district, and carry them deep into the tournament.

“He draws a lot of attention from the other team, which then in turn opens up the other forward,” Deraway said. “He does a lot of good things for us. He has been a captain for two years for us. He is an excellent player.”

The excitement surrounding the program heading into the district is due to the depth of the team. Additional offensive help will come from Scotlund Shaffer (3 goals, 6 assists), Bailey Armstrong, Brandon Great-house (2 goals, 5 assists). The Braves defense will be anchored by seniors Travis Webber and Zach Myres. Goalkeeper Dylan Miller has 64 saves on the season.

“They put in a lot of hard work, and they are out there busting their butts,” Deraway said. “It is just going to continue. They are going to play hard soccer.”

This work is expected to continue, as the regular season comes to an end. On Wednesday, Badger blanked Mathews, 6-0.

“These games are extremely important,” Deraway said. “They realize that they can’t have a letdown game. They want to come out and play their best. They want to get the younger guys more experience, so they really come together in games like this.”

Luke Springer (20 goals, 5 assists on the year) stuck to the game plan Wednesday evening. His three goals led his team, as he did what he could to keep the momentum heading into tournament play.

“He finishes the best of anyone,” Deraway said. “Anytime he has an opportunity, you can expect the ball on goal, and tonight he was able to find the net three times.”

Luchette added a goal and three assists for Badger, while teammates Greathouse and Ethan Luchette added a goal a piece.

Springer and the rest of the Badger squad hope that the opportunities reap the same results in the district. If so, the Braves may make a run from the No. 2 seed in the Gates Mills district.