‘Adaptable’ Gryphons soccer team begins playoff run against neighborhood rival
The Greenhills Gryphons Boys Soccer Team rolls into post-season action on Friday, Oct. 13 at Towsley Field against a familiar foe, Father Gabriel Richard, a team the Gryphons have bested twice during the regular season.
While the Gryphons feel confident heading into the match against their Ann Arbor rival, the squad appreciates the challenge it faces in this opening round of division play. Win, and the team moves on to the district semis on Tuesday at home. Lose, and the season ends.
“It’s not easy to beat the same team three times in one season,” said Greg Huntoon ‘07, assistant coach. “They (FGR) will come ready to play, but so will we.”
The Gryphons enter the tournament with a record of 5-9-1, not counting scrimmages, and a history of deep, post-season runs. These include a state championship in 2017, and state runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2022. That was in Division IV, however. This year, the team plays in the more competitive Division III.
“Lucian’s (long-time Greenhills Boys Soccer Head Coach Lucian Popescu) approach has always been to play a tough schedule during the regular season so that when we get to tournament time there isn’t any shock by the increased level of play,” Huntoon said, adding that this year’s team has proven itself to be “adaptable throughout the season.”
One mark of the Gryphons adaptability has been its execution of different formations during the season, which have enabled it to push up aggressively on attack, while spreading the field to create opportunities down the middle. The shifts in formation have required its players to operate in different positions and assume different responsibilities. This year’s lineup has generated contributions from players in all grade levels, including a promising group of freshmen who have stepped in to fill key roles at key times.
Huntoon also noted the contributions of this year’s seniors. Together, they provided the leadership needed to adapt to new formations and to help the team meet the challenges of injuries and the elevated competition of a Division III schedule. Senior captains J.D. Hatch, Michael Zheng, Dom Schuster, and Lachlan Rae led the way.
“As a team, we came up with our own identity, our way of playing,” said Hatch, a midfielder. “That includes being direct, not beating ourselves, and remembering that we are all attackers and defenders—everyone is everything on this team.
“We’ve played challenging teams all season, so we’ll be prepared for the playoffs. This Friday is the first step on that (post-season) path, and we hope to have success that will snowball going forward.”