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Boys soccer players to watch in the Blue Water Area this season

While the summer temperatures are here to stay, the summer workouts are winding down. That means the 2023 MHSAA boys soccer season is quickly approaching….



While the summer temperatures are here to stay, the summer workouts are winding down.

That means the 2023 MHSAA boys soccer season is quickly approaching. Games begin Aug. 16.

Here are some players to watch for in the Blue Water Area, listed alphabetically.

Kyle Beecherl, Marysville, senior

Ever since he was a freshman on the junior varsity team, Kyle Beecherl has been a captain for the Vikings.

“He’s a natural born leader,” Marysville coach Scott Parker said. “He really commands the respect of his teammates and leads by example. He’s a tremendous soccer player and the total package — his skill set and work ethic are there.”

While known for his selflessness, Parker wants Beecherl to look for his shot more often.

“I’d like to see Kyle have a breakout year as far as getting an opportunity to score,” Parker said. “He’s an endless worker and likes to distribute a lot. But I’d like to see him find his opportunities to score goals.”

Ian Feldman, Almont, senior

This will be Ian Feldman’s third straight year as a captain.

“The main thing with him is his leadership,” Almont coach Martin Camaj said. “Especially with the young guys, he’s very encouraging and very good at teaching. He’s like an extension of me on the field.”

The center midfielder finished with four goals and four assists for the Raiders in 2022.

“I’d like to see a continuation of (his leadership) and stepping up in big moments,” Camaj said. “As a team, we only lost one senior and we should be stronger than we were last year. (I want to see) the culmination of all his experience.”

Christopher Galiana, Imlay City, junior

A good chunk of last year’s team, which made it all the way to a Division 3 regional final, graduated in the spring. Fortunately for the Spartans, key returners like Christopher Galiana are ready to fill the void.

“He has a really focused mindset about trying to be the best player,” Imlay City coach Luis Hernandez said. “He’s pretty much good at everything he puts his hands on. That’s his mindset. He’s one of those kids that will not stop. He’s just a complete hustler and a great kid in the midfield, especially.”

With an influx of newcomers on the roster, Galiana is one of the few veterans.

“The biggest thing I would like to see is for him to be more vocal out there,” Hernandez said. “I know he’s going to start doing it, because I’m looking for him and these other kids to be the leaders of the team. He wants to be the best he can be and will try to impact those young kids around him.”

Wyatt Fajardo, Marysville, senior

During last year’s team banquet, Marysville coach Scott Parker let his four captains pick one of their successors for 2023. They chose Wyatt Fajardo.

“Wyatt is coming into his own,” Parker said. “He’s another leader on the field. He has a big voice, is very passionate about the game and works for excellence.”

The Vikings want Fajardo to be more aggressive with the ball this season.

“He’s going to play our center attacking mid position,” Parker said. “I’m looking for him to be more of an attacker and score more directed goals. Obviously, we want him to be a leader and distribute when needed. I’m expecting him to really command the midfield and be that center mid leader that every team needs.”

Dimitri Kasparian, Port Huron Northern, senior

After scoring a school-record 24 goals last year, Dimitri Kasparian is closing in on some more history. The forward needs just six goals to become the program’s all-time leading scorer.

“Dimitri has made life difficult on opposing defenses for three years, and I expect he’ll do the same this season,” Port Huron Northern coach Bryan Becker said in an email. “He creates by using a combination of powerful speed and an eye for the goal.”

Since his sophomore season in 2021, Kasparian has found the back of the net 34 times.

Nathan McDonell, St. Clair, senior

St. Clair's Nathan McDonell (left) is seen during a game last season.

The Saints found their iron man last season in Nathan McDonell, who was a constant presence on the pitch.

“Nathan was a vital part of our team last year, starting and playing just about every minute of every game,” St. Clair coach Jessica Jones said in email. “He is an excellent leader and served as a captain on our team last year.”

Look for McDonell to be a focal point offensively.

“Nathan really excels at controlling and passing the ball,” Jones said. “He knows the game well and always knows how to position himself for success.”

Sebastian Salcedo, Imlay City, junior

Imlay City's Sebastian Salcedo dribbles past defenders during a game last season.

Another Spartan who shined as a sophomore last season was Sebastain Salcedo.

“He’s the brain,” Imlay City coach Luis Hernandez said. “He has a really, really high IQ of the game. Last year as a sophomore, he had a really important job which was to keep the flow of the game moving. He meshed really well with the seniors.”

With those seniors now gone, Salcedo will step into an expanded leadership role.

“He knows how to move the ball and he knows where it needs to go,” Hernandez said. “He just has that touch and that vision.”

Connor Walker, Port Huron, senior

Last season, when opponents double- and triple-teamed Griffin Hansel and Austin Trudeau, the Red Hawks were forced to adapt.

“That’s where Connor Walker came in,” Port Huron coach Ray Brown said. “He was a new face. (Defenders) didn’t realize that he has some of the footwork of Griffin Hansel, with a lot of the speed of Austin Trudeau. So he has a very explosive first step. Once he gets the ball and you’re behind him, you’re not going to catch him.”

Walker scored 21 goals in 2022 and helped the Red Hawks win the MAC Silver championship.

“As far as skill wise, his ball touches are good,” Brown said. “(I’d like to see) just a bit more accuracy on shooting. But he’s explosive and extremely quick. I think that’s one of his biggest things.”

Contact Brenden Welper at Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.

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