Mekeel Christian Academy’s Tai Aderounmu (9) and Gideon Armao (24) pursue a Fort Plain player during a Sept. 30 Western Athletic Conference game at Glenville’s Maalwyck Park.
Monday’s 2-0 loss to Galway was only a bump in the road for the Mekeel Christian Academy boys soccer team.
More than midway through the Western Athletic Conference season, the Lions (6-3-0, 12 points) own a two-point lead over Schoharie (4-3-2, 10 points) in the South Division standings. A five-game winning streak helped MCA – once known as Schenectady Christian School – leapfrog over the competition.
Still, MCA coach Andrew Lehning isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Every team we have seen is scrappy and can win games,” said Lehning. “We are still a pretty young team with quite a few inexperienced players, so we have moved some guys around [and asked] some returning players to play new positions. [We] simplified the system a little and even changed the way we practice so that the less experienced kids can pick things up quicker and contribute.”
The start of the season was tough on Lehning’s Lions. Flooding rains from tropical storms Irene and Lee made MCA’s home field – Glenville’s Maalwyck Park – unplayable until the latter half of September, and the team struggled to a 1-2 start with losses to Sharon Springs and Schoharie.
“We had a week of virtually no practice, and then practices were hit or miss for the weeks after that,” said Lehning. “Although Rotterdam Youth Soccer and the Scotia[-Glenville] school district did allow us the use of fields when they were available, the kids never really had a set practie schedule. Our first bunch of home games were switched to away [games], so there was a lot of moving around for the first three weeks. But these kids kept as focused as if everything was normal.”
The 1-0 overtime loss to Schoharie Sept. 14 was the last time MCA was shut out prior to Monday’s setback against Galway (second place in WAC North, 7-1-2, 16 points). The Lions won their next five games by a combined score of 21-4, paced by twin brothers Tai and Kenny Aderounmu. Tai Aderounmu scored 12 of his team’s 21 goals during that stretch, while Kenny contributed two goals and six assists.
“The twins are good players, but we do put 11 guys on the field and they all work together to make things happen,” said Lehning. “We have been able to take Kenny off the back line – where he played last year in most games – and move him to the midfield at times because of the play of our two new centerbacks, Tyler Guido and Steve Klein. Teams haven’t really been able to double or triple [team] the twins because we have multiple players who can score like Anders Trestick [five goals, three assists], TK Majekdounmi [three goals, three assists] and Caleb Stewart [three goals, three assists].”
The Lions still have several hurdles to clear in order to win the WAC South. They have rematches with Sharon Springs and Schoharie in the next two weeks, as well as a road trip to Northville (7-1-1, 15 points) for a cross-divisional clash.
“Because this league is so volatile and the teams are impossible to predict, we are focused simply on getting better each practice and each game,” said Lehning. “I don’t really have any concern for us as a team other than that all the other [WAC] teams have the same attitutde and are working just as hard or harder to get better.”
MCA returns to action Friday when it hosts Middleburgh (3-3-2, 8 points) in a WAC South Division game at Maalwyck Park.