Blue Devils’ Evan Quigley tries to shake a defender Monday, Oct. 12 during high school soccer action at Almont.
Step one is officially complete for the Richmond boys soccer team – they are the undisputed champs of the BWAC.
After topping Almont 3-0 in a scrappy game, the Blue Devils have an unbeaten 10-0-1 conference record. Even with a game against Armada left on the schedule, the Blue Devils locked up the title as Almont and Imlay City each have three conferences losses.
“That’s just a great feeling right there, being undefeated in the BWAC,” Richmond senior Brandon Kunce said. “We have one more game coming up, but we just need to get our heads on to play that game and districts next week.”
Kunce was the first of three Blue Devils to score in the game, easily putting the ball in the net as Almont goalie Joe Liblong was on the ground after a acrobatic diving save on a previous shot. That gave Richmond the lead 15 minutes into the game.
It ended up being the only goal Richmond needed thanks to stellar back line play by Steven Gil, Brandon Jacques, Evan Quigley and Brandon VanGorp. Even though the game, at times, bordered on a full contact football game, Richmond’s defense stayed composed to keep Almont out of its 18 yard box.
“We always play very hard and tough,” VanGorp said. “We never let fouls get in the way of our game.”
Thanks to the solid defense, Richmond goalie Allan Szczesniak was called on for just three saves. On Almont’s end, Liblong gave his team eight saves on the night.
One goal that would’ve been hard for even a wall to stop came late in the first half off the foot of sophomore Michael Bullock on a 20 yard volley, finding the upper corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“Anytime Bullock gets a foot on the ball it has a chance to go in,” Richmond head coach Lance Whitney said. “He’s a sophomore and extremely skilled player, and he always puts it on frame.”
Richmond’s third and final goal came with 28 minutes left in the game off the foot of senior Alex Meiniche, who rolled it into the right side of the net from 15 yards out. That’s been a common sight for Blue Devils fans as that was Meiniche’s 25th goal of the season.
Richmond is playing as the hottest team in the area right now, not losing in regulation since August. They’ll need to keep that white-hot play intact for next week’s districts as they could see either Almont or Imlay City if they reach the finals.
“I think this game, along with winning a title, is something we can take into districts,” Whitney said. “It’s a confidence booster, and we are looking to make some noise in the state tournament.”
Richmond will enter the state tournament ranked No. 15 in the latest Division 3 Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings. Before they look to turn that 15 into a No. 1 ranking by season’s end, they can kick back and enjoy their weeks-long journey to a conference crown.
“It’s exciting, it really is exciting to be part of the winning end of the BWAC,” Whitney said. “We fell short last year, and it’s really good to be on top of the league for the first time in a long time.”