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Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside eyeing consecutive Upper Peninsula Division 2 titles


BY DAN STICKRADT

WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR

C: 248-884-1051

TW: @LocalSportsFans


ESCANABA, Mich. — It’s not how you start, but how you finish.


Tony Carey hopes that will be the case again for the Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified boys soccer team this month.


Bayside is the defending Upper Peninsula Division 2 Tournament champions in boys soccer. The program, which does not have a mascot nickname, finished 7-7-0 during the regular season a year ago before tacking on two more wins in the U.P. Tournament to finish 9-7-0 overall and take home some championship hardware.


“We’ve had some success in recent years,” said Carey, who has been a part of the Delta County-based club for some two decades. “We had a solid finish last season and we hope to contend again this (season).”


Although graduation losses have aided a 6-4-3 overall record, Bayside Soccer is hoping for a great and furious finish to the 2022 season at the U.P. Tournament, which will be held at Marquette’s Kaufman Sports Complex the weekend of Oct. 15. Bayside has won three Division 2 crowns in the past decade, while Negaunee is the favorite this season. Chassell Copper Country Christian captured the U.P. D-2 crown in 2020.


Bayside Soccer is technically a parent and club-funded program and not paid for by the Escanaba or Gladstone school districts. The high school team is sometimes co-ed, depending on if there are enough females to form a girls soccer team each year. Bayside has also brought in players from the likes of Manistique, Rapid River and ever Crystal Falls Forest Park for the Unified program, as those districts do not currently sponsor boys soccer at the varsity level. Manistique offered its own team until 2015, while Rapid River briefly had a program in the late 1990s and early 2000s (please see list at the end of the story).


“Since we are not funded by the schools, we’ll take what we can get (in terms of players),” said Carey. “Although we mainly have kids from Escanaba and Gladstone, we’ve had them drive in from other communities. If a player is dedicated enough to drive over and be apart of (the Unified program), then we’ll welcome them. Of course if soccer up here (in The U.P.) becomes a (MHSAA-sanctioned sport), then we’ll have to readdress that. But we’ve had kids come from over from Manistique since they don’t have a (high school) team anymore. We’ve even had a player come from Crystal Falls and that’s an hour, hour-and-a-half away. But these kids love soccer and they are willing to make the drive. There’s still not a ton of teams up here (in the Upper Peninsula).”


Overall, there are 15 boys soccer programs in the entire Upper Peninsula for the 2022 season, many that enter the U.P. Tournament each year (please see list at the end). There is expected to be 4-6 programs for girls soccer in the U.P. for the spring 2023 season, depending on interest from various high schools and communities.


The Upper Peninsula tournaments are not sanctioned by the MHSAA – and they can’t be due to a lawsuit that was brought against the MHSAA in the early 2000s and finally settled in 2007. That was the fall season where the Upper Peninsula first started its own small postseason tournaments. Several sports were moved out of season with boys soccer in the U.P. being moved to the spring and girls soccer moved to the fall. The only way the schools and programs in the U.P. could remain in their rightful seasons parallel with the rest of Michigan and Wisconsin, the U.P. teams had to create their own postseason tournament.


One of the drawbacks of being a varsity club and not funded by the school districts at the current time is travel. Escanaba-Gladstone is restricted for many other reasons.


“One of the big things is that since it’s a club (funded) sport, the kids can’t get out of school early to travel to games, so a lot of our travel is on weekends,” noted Carey. “We pretty much have stayed in the Upper Peninsula or (northern) Wisconsin in the past. It would be nice to take a trip downstate and play some high schools down there. Maybe have the kids and parents spend the night at a hotel and play some other schools that we’re not familiar with. I know Marquette and (Sault Ste Marie) do play some games or (weekend) tournaments against schools down there (in the Lower Peninsula). We hope to be able to do that in the future to help grow our program.”


Bayside graduated 11 players from its program the 2021 season, and the program is currently co-ed and does have a couple of female players. But Bayside still has several players back in uniform to keep it in contention against most teams in its region this year. There are 19 players on the Bayside roster this fall, including a talented freshmen class of eight players.


Senior goalkeeper Luke Rice has had a stellar career and leads the backfield for Bayside. Versatile junior Micah Basso, who rotates between midfield or defense, has also been steady. He is a former Olympic Developmental Program player in Wisconsin.


Senior midfielder Matt Nelson is the engine that makes Bayside go and is a fourth-year veteran. Junior midfielder Quinn Nelson has plenty of travel soccer pedigree, while senior center back Tyler Smith is the other returning starter.


Sophomore Noah Ingebrigtsen, who rotates at midfield or up top at forward, leads a talented cast of newcomers. Freshmen Tom Nelson (D/M), Landon Corrao (F) and Peyton Rohr (D) have also logged plenty of minutes in their debut seasons. Rohr is one of a pair of girls soccer players on the current roster.


While Bayside is not yet at the level of a top-15 program in the state rankings downstate compiled by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association, it has come a long ways since the high school club program was launched more than a decade ago. Overall, the club was first started as a youth and recreational program back in 1996 and has enjoyed tremendous growth since those early years.


“We’re at the point where some of the players come into high school with a lot of soccer in their background,” said Carey. “There are some kids that don’t have a ton of experience (when they get to high school), but many of them do. That has helped us remain competitive every year.”


Have action or team photos, highlights video clips or interview videos to contribute to this story, please email Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner at jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com or Web and Content Editor Dan Stickradt at stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com. To inquire about broadcast opportunities and pricing, also contact Jonathan Turner at the above-listed email.


UPPER PENINSULA BY THE NUMBERS:


An * asterisk denotes school is eligible to use eighth grade students on high school athletics teams due to the state’s sub-100 students rule. Two ** asterisks denotes school is eligible to use both eighth grade and seventh grade students on high school athletics teams due to the state’s sub-50 students rule.


Current Upper Peninsula Boys Soccer Teams:


School: 9-12

Beaver Island 15 **

Brimley Ojibwe Charter 39 **

Chassell Copper Country Christian 46 **

Cooks Big Bay De Noc 56 *

Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified 652/414

Grand Marais Burt Township N/A **

Hannahville Nah Tah Wahsh 65 *

Iron Mountain-Norway Unified 264/177

Ironwood-Bessemer-Wakefield Unified 196/114/95

Kingsford 563

Mackinac Island 22 **

Marquette 1,114

Munising Baptist N/A **

Negaunee 414

Sault Ste Marie 884


Schools At One Time Formerly Sponsored Soccer Programs:


Bark River-Harris 220

Gwinn 265

Manistique 263

Paradise Whitefish Township 22 **

Rapid River 109


Other Upper Peninsula High Schools:


Baraga 123

Bark River-Harris 220

Brimley 154

Calumet 369

Carney-Nadeau 77 *

Cedarville Les Cheneaux 62 *

Chassell 68 *

Crystal Falls Forest Park 124

DeTour 41 **

Dollar Bay 110

Eben Junction Superior Central 83 *

Engadine 94 *

Escanaba Holy Name Catholic 20 **

Ewen-Trout Creek 67 *

Felch North Dickinson 82 *

Gwinn 265

Hancock 222

Iron River West Iron County 235

Ishpeming 215

Ishpeming Westwood 383

Kinross Maplewood Baptist 27 **

Lake Linden-Hubbell 103

L’Anse 188

Manistique 263

Marquette North Star Academy 68 *

Menominee 370

Mohawk Keewenaw Academy N/A

Munising 179

Newberry 167

Ontonagon 116

Painesdale-Jeffers 190

Paradise Whitefish Township 22 **

Pickford 161

Powers North Central 108

Rapid River 109

Republic-Michigamme 36 **

Rock Mid-Peninsula 45 **

Rudyard 169

St. Ignace-Lasalle 201

Stephenson 149

Wakefield-Marensisco 95 *

Watersmeet 51 *

White Pine N/A *


U.P. DIVISION 1 FOR BOYS SOCCER – Houghton, Iron Mountain-Norway Unified, Kingsford, Marquette, Sault Ste Marie


U.P. DIVISION 2 FOR BOYS SOCCER – Chassell Copper Country Christian, Houghton ‘B’, Ironwood-Bessemer-Wakefield Unified, Marquette ‘B’, Negaunee


NORTHERN LIGHTS LEAGUE (U.P.-based high schools that have not entered Upper Peninsula Tournament in recent years) – Beaver Island, Brimley Ojibwe Charter, Cooks Big Bay De Noc, Grand Marais Burt Township, Hannahville Nah Tah Wahsh, Mackinac Island, Munising Baptist



UPPER PENINSULA DIVISION 1 CHAMPIONS


2021: Marquette

2020: Marquette

2019: Marquette

2018: Marquette

2017: Marquette

2016: Marquette

2015: Marquette

2014: Marquette

2013: Marquette

2012: Marquette

2011: Marquette

2010: Marquette

2009: Marquette

2008: Marquette

2007: Not available.


UPPER PENINSULA DIVISION 2 CHAMPIONS


2021: Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified

2020: Chassell Copper Country Christian

2019: Negaunee

2018: Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified

2017: Not Available

2016: Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified

2015: Negaunee

2014: Not Available

2013: Cooks Big Bay De Noc

2012: Not Available

2011: Not Available

2010: Not Available

2009: Not Available

2008: Not Available

2007: Not Available




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