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Booters up for challenge, fun of OAA

Front Row L - R: Kevin Rein, Jacob Clark, Ben Magdaleno, Matt Frisch, Connor Risinger, Tyler Mayes Middle Row: Zach Venema, Jesse Kolean, Tyler Bozigar, Alex Juntti, Marco Bonfiglio, Dan Peck and Christian Lopez. Back Row: Zach Hinman, Doug Klimbal, Brandon Barber, Coach Thaler, Marshall Versteeg, Michael Kitchner, Jacob Wysocki (click for larger version)
September 01, 2010 - Out with the Flint Metro League and in with the Oakland Activities Association.

Oxford Varsity Boys Soccer Head Coach John Thaler knew this day was coming for the last couple of years, so he purposefully scheduled games against OAA opponents to better prepare his team for the transition.

"It's a higher level of play all-around," said Thaler. "It's going to be challenging, yet the boys are up for it and it is going to be fun."

He added that it is going to be nice competing against top level programs day in and day out.

"These guys are in for the ultimate goal of winning a state championship, and the teams that we are playing have won so much as far as state competition goes. It is going to be fun going up against those teams," Thaler added.

Oxford will begin it's first season in the OAA white division.

Standing in the way of the Wildcats will be division foes Auburn Hills Avondale, Berkley, Birmingham Groves, Birmingham Seaholm, Bloomfield Hills Andover, Farmington, Farmington Hills Harrison, Ferndale, Hazel Park, North Farmington, Pontiac and West Bloomfield.

Coach Thaler said that the boys are going to look good this year.

"We have a lot of great assets on both offense and defense," he said. "We have a lot of skilled players that have played on some top quality teams in the past and continue to do so."

Three of those assets will be Captains Doug Klimbal, Matt Frisch and Connor Risinger.

"The captains are great," Thaler said.

Klimbal is Thaler's first junior captain in quite some time. "It is necessary and much deserved," Thaler said.

His other two captains, Frisch and Risinger, are seniors. Thaler called Frisch an all-around leader both in school and on the athletic field.

"He is a three-time all stater (in wrestling) and hopefully he can make it a four-in-a-row. Connor is a great kid with a great work ethic and kids just appreciate all that he he does for the program and is a great team leader," Thaler added.

One of the biggest strengths that Thaler sees is the amount of unity and history the players on the team have with each other.

"I've seen teams in the past and I've coached teams in the past where the unity wasn't there and I quickly said we have to change this...these boys have played with each other for so long that they know what to expect from each other and they know how hard they can push each other and themselves, which is great," Thaler said.

Risinger agreed with his coach.

"That is going to be our biggest asset overall, our team chemistry," he said.

When asked about his goals for the season, Thaler was looking to finish in the top third in the OAA and make it to the second round of districts.

Frisch wasn't shy about making his season prediction.

"I actually expect us to win the league. Not many people do, but I think we have a chance," Frisch said. "We (played) some of these teams in the past and we held our own, and I think we are a better team than we were last year."

The season could not have started any better for Thaler and the Wildcats.

They have won all five games played so far.

Oxford won the Eagle Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 21, hosted by Lapeer East. They won their first game 7-0 before defeating Lapeer East 2-0 for the title.

They defeated Brandon 1-0 on Aug. 23 before defeating Fenton 4-2 on Wednesday, Aug. 25 and Waterford Kettering 2-0 on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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