LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lansing Christian boys soccer team went 23-3 a season ago and reached the regional championship game for the first time since 2016. The Pilgrims have the challenge of replacing nine seniors from the 2022 team as they seek a third straight district title this fall.

“It’s a tough loss but we still have a strong core of boys that I think we can really build with some newcomers, some freshmen and sophomores that we can really build around,” said junior Owen Resch.

Resch, a First Team All-State selection as a sophomore last season, is one of a few key returning players the Pilgrims are relying on to help acclimate the newcomers.

“As an upperclassman this is my first year, and so it’s kind of a leadership role that I haven’t had before,” said Resch. “So, leading these guys, not only just playing alongside of them but just lifting them up every day.”

Lansing Christian feels confident in its offensive attack with Resch returning along with Tyler Kendrick and Cullen McKay.

The larger challenge lies in replacing three starters along the back line.

“Our biggest strength is going forward, I think we’ll be able to put the ball in the back of the net,” said head coach Tommy Ziolkowski. “I think our weakness right now is we are replacing three on our back line. But I don’t really look at it as a weakness because I think we’re going to be strong there too. It’s just going to take some time.”

The Pilgrims welcome in a talented freshmen class to help fill some of these roles. Unlike in years past, Ziolkowski said a lot of these newcomers have club soccer experience.

“They come in more technical, [with] more technical awareness and a cleaner first touch,” he said of the club players. “They kind of have a better understanding for the game and that helps because it’s going to speed us up in our process going forward.”

Lansing Christian opens the season on Thursday, Aug. 17 at home against Jackson Christian.