BY DAN STICKRADT
WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR
Twitter: @MiSoccerNetwork and @LocalSportsFans
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Something was amiss for Alex Moeller.
He was raised in a very successful soccer circle and has steadily grown into one of the best high-school-aged players in his age group in Michigan.
But again, something was missing.
“I really wanted to play one high school season,” admitted Moeller. “That was kind of the plan in the back of my mind. But I really wanted to spend one season playing with my classmates.”
Moeller, who is now a senior at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, a state powerhouse of sorts during the last two decades, has joined the high school playing ranks for the first time. He, along with junior brother Andrew Moeller, both made the switch in August to compete for the Rangers, a top-10 team in Division 2 and one of the contenders this season for league, district, regional and state championships.
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Beginning in the seventh grade, Moeller began playing the in the MLS Next system (formerly U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy) with the Michigan Wolves. Moeller’s family used to reside in Livonia only a couple miles from where the Wolves train before his parents picked up transfers at work and moved to the west side of the state. He continued to make the two-plus-hour drive several days a week to continue to compete for the Wolves, who helped give him plenty of exposure.
Moeller has already made an oral commitment to play in college. He is one of three in-state seniors that have pledged to NCAA Division I Western Michigan University, joining Muskegon Reeths-Puffer’s Liam Smith and Utica Eisenhower’s Jordan Klein. He received offers over the last year from the likes of the University of Wisconsin and a host of other quality Division I and Division II schools but has instead joined a long pipeline of Michigan talent to play for the Broncos and coach Chad Wiseman. He will sign with WMU in November.
“It was a tough decision to make,” admitted Moeller about playing high school as a senior. “I had already received some offers and I made a commitment to Western (Michigan). I’m really looking forward to playing in college. I just wanted to really play for my high school as a senior and help my school.”
Moeller’s decision has benefited his Forest Hills Central side immensely, as he has elevated the Rangers up a notch or two this season and made a huge impact. So far FHC has bounced around the top-10 of the top 15 state rankings since the preseason and will play rival Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern for the Ottawa Kent Conference White Division Tournament and overall league championship game Monday night.
The Rangers are 14-2-1 entering that contest with 10 shutouts on the campaign – including nine straight clean sheets – all while outscoring the opposition 62-12 overall and 44-0 over the last nine games. The Rangers also own a 2-1 victory over FHN back on Sept. 7 during the regular season of conference play.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Moeller is also a fine student, collecting a 1560 on his SAT and along with taking numerous advanced classes is one of the top students in his class with a stellar 4.4 GPA.
Playing a touch schedule, Moeller has joined an already experienced lineup as FHC brought back a large group of upperclassmen. His presence has simply made his school better.
“He’s a very special kid,” admitted Forest Hills Central coach Paul Kramer. We’re very blessed to have him and his brother join us this season. We knew we’d have a very good team this year, but with them we are a top five team in the state. I’ve coached high school and club soccer here in western Michigan for a long time and I can say that Alex Moeller is one of the most talented players that we’ve had here at Forest Hills Central. He’s kind of like Anthony Bowie, who had an incredible senior season (in 2015) and led the school to the state championship.
“What I like about Alex is not only is he a very good soccer player, but even a better person and a great student,” continued Kramer. “He’s like having a coach on the field. He sees things before they develop and anticipates very well. He’s very unselfish and gets as many kids involved in the attack as possible.”
Through 17 games, Moeller has collected 18 goals and seven assists overall and has registered eight goals and four assists against league opponents. Stats don’t tell the whole story Moeller always draws attention form one of the opposition’s top defensive players and also handles a lot of his team’s restarts. Although he leads the team with 43 total points and two hattricks, he is far from one-dimensional, always directing the Rangers’ attack while getting multiple players involved. OF the 18 rostered field players, only two don’t have goals, which is a tribute to not only Moeller but the entire team for not playing selfish and playing well in the team concept.
Individually, Moeller is on the watch list for All-State Dream Team honors and is a candidate for Mr. Soccer, given annually to the state’s top high school player as voted on by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.
“I am honored to just be mentioned on these (lists),” said Moeller. “But the goal is for our team to do the best we can.”
Team-wise the success has Moeller and Co. thinking big. The Rangers would love nothing more than to capture some championship hardware and make a deep run in the Division 2 postseason. Forest Hills Central won two D-2 state titles in the past, 2004 and 2015, not to mention numerous of the deep postseason journeys.
With the high-level of soccer talent, pedigree, club experience, plus being a stellar student, Moeller’s resume keeps expanding at a fast pace. But there are definitely some other things on the mind of Moeller and his new-found teammates.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” said Moeller. “We are in the running for our league championship. But I know we would love nothing more than to represent our school and go as far as we can in the playoffs. I know it’s not going to be easy – winning (championships) is never easy. But if we continue to come together and play well enough, than it’s definitely possible.”