ALLENDALE – Grand Rapids FC opened up its preseason with a bang on Sunday evening, defeating the Grand Valley State men’s club soccer team 8-0 behind a brace apiece from both Noble Sullivan and Elmeden Zukic.
“We have a great squad and we’ve been coming together slowly but surely,” said Sullivan. “It was great to have all these fans, to see all the excitement, and that just motivates us even more to get better and better each game.”
The fans showed up, over 300, and didn’t have to wait long to see the first goal.
Zukic opened up the scoring in the 9th minute, taking a pass down the left side of the field and into the box, beating the GVSU keeper far post to put GRFC ahead 1-0.
Tony Deakin added a second goal in the 16th minute, combining a beautiful play with Ahmad Bah to double the lead. Nick Abdoo scored three minutes later, receiving a Deakin chip over the defense, then chipping the GVSU keeper to put GRFC ahead 3-0, a score which the Blues took into halftime.
Out of the break, Ruben Ornelas-Luna tallied the first goal of the second half in the 57th minute, opening the offensive floodgates.
Sullivan scored in the 59th minute, followed by a goal from Sean Broekhuizen in the 69th.
Zukin then found the back of the net for his second of the game in the 83rd, followed by Sullivan’s second in the 87th to round out the scoring as GRFC claimed an 8-0 scrimmage victory.
Sullivan was named the Proper Soda Man of the Match for his two-goal, one-assist performance.
“I thought it was very good, a great display of soccer. We wanted to assess our situation, to see the personnel,” said GRFC head coach George Moni. “We went from a 4-2-3-1 into a 3-4-3 and then we went into a 3-5-2 at the end. I wanted to see how everyone copes with the new formation. It was good for everybody to get to know each other, to develop a bit of sense of unity and develop more togetherness and cohesiveness.”
Sullivan and Deakin were key in GRFC’s run of play, combining passes and dictating the team’s speed of play.
“They will become like the conductors,” said Moni. “They’re very important to our team right now because of their fitness and the complexity of their play, and their personalities – they are very competitive people so it’s great to have guys like that on the team.”
GRFC returns to the pitch for another scrimmage in just under three weeks against Aquinas College, set to be played at MVP Fieldhouse on May 1.
Until then, the boys in blue will continue to work as they learn each other’s tendencies and skill sets.
“We’ve only had one official practice so we have to work out all the set plays, certain runs, different tactics, different formations,” said Sullivan. “We played a number of different formations throughout the game, so just jelling, figuring out the personnel, where people like the ball whether to their feet or to space – just the little things that come with playing together.”