Brotherly Bond Sparks John Glenn Goals

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

September 15, 2020

It didn’t take even a half for the Beson-Montoya brothers to show off the potential of their connection this season.

Freshman forward Lawsen Beson-Montoya scored two goals during the first 40 minutes of his debut for the Bay City John Glenn boys soccer team on Sept. 8, and each of those goals was assisted by his brother Lance, a senior.

It was as though they had been playing together for years – except it was the first time they’d been on the field together for a game.

“Honestly, I feel like it wasn’t surprising to them,” John Glenn coach Justin Page said. “I think they almost expected to have some sort of chemistry. The more you play together, the more chemistry you’re going to have with each other. They haven’t been playing with each other, but both of them have watched the other play enough that they know what type of player they are.”

Lance and Lawsen have been playing soccer since they can remember, but with a three-year age gap, they had never suited up for the same team. They’ve even been part of different non-school programs for the past two years, with Lance playing in the Bay Area Soccer Association and Lawsen with the Midland Fusion.

Their mother, Lance said, was most excited about the chance to have both brothers on the same field. But it’s an opportunity that they also are relishing.

“Especially for high school sports, I think the best part about it is playing with your friends and the social aspect,” Lawsen said. “So, it’s great to get to play with him, my buddies and his buddies, too.”

Playing varsity as a freshman was a goal for Lawsen, and something Lance had expected his brother to achieve. While they weren’t playing together, they would often work on their games together, sometimes joined by their youngest brother Landen, who is in sixth grade. During these training sessions, big brother isn’t giving any freebies.

“He doesn’t really cut me any slack when we’re playing around,” Lawsen said. “He’s the older brother; he kind of roughs me up. He doesn’t really go easy on me, because he wants me to be at the level he’s at.”

For Page, though, the freshman being a viable varsity contributor was mostly just hearsay until he was able to see the speedster in action.

“Last year, I heard about him,” Page said. “’Oh, Lance’s brother is coming next year and he’s pretty good.’ You don’t know how good he’s going to be until the first kickoff of the first game. You could do all of these soccer drills extremely well, but when games start, it’s completely different.”

The early production only heightened the excitement and showed what the brothers are capable of in the John Glenn attack with Lance playing center midfield and Lawsen playing forward.

“It was awesome,” Lance said. “I kind of knew what my main goal was, and that was send the ball up to him because he’s got great speed. The first one, I just booted it up the field, and he was there. The second was a cross from a corner kick and he headed it in.”

While their natural chemistry is helping them connect on the field, their differing styles of play are too, as both brothers said they complement each other.

“Me and my brother are completely different players on the field – the physical aspect of it,” Lawsen said. “I was the one that was always the little dude on the field; he was more like a brick house. He might not have the speed I do, but he has foot skills like nobody compared to him. I was watching him thinking, ‘I have to get better on my foot skills.’ We’re like Batman and Robin, in a way.”

John Glenn is off to a 1-3 start, but the Bobcats are optimistic about the way they’ve played to this point against what Page said is tough competition. 

“I think we’re going to pick it up here coming up in this next stretch,” he said. “I think the starting point we’ve had this year is fairly good, even if the record doesn’t show it. We’re going to start putting together a win streak coming up here, hopefully, and ideally we can put ourselves in a position to win the first-ever boys soccer District championship at John Glenn.”

A strong core of players who return from last year’s Bay County Tournament champions – including Lance – lead the way, and the contributions of youngsters like Lawsen can help make it possible.

Either way, it’s going to be a memorable year for the Beson-Montoya family.

“I knew this year was going to be fun because I knew what my brother could do,” Lance said. “I knew I could trust him and what his strong suits were.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Lance, left, and Lawsen Beson-Montoya are providing an exciting connection for the Bay City John Glenn boys soccer team this fall. (Middle) Lawsen (22) and Lance (23) listen in during a break. (Photos courtesy of the Bay City John Glenn boys soccer program.)

Working Together, with Neighbor's Help, Schoolcraft Teams Making Selves at 'Home'

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 19, 2023

SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.

Southwest CorridorIf it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.

Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.

With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.

“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”

Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.

If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.

The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.

The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.

For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.

Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. “The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.

“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.

“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”

Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.

“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.

Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.

“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”

When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.

“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”

Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.

Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey.The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.

“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.

The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.

“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”

The move has cost the team a few home games.

“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”

Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.

“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”

In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.

Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job.“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”

Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.

“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.

“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”

Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”

As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.

Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.

“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.

“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)