Makela wins D-3 soccer award
HANCOCK — For someone who had never picked up a soccer ball, Haley Makela of Finlandia certainly did the most with the opportunity when she did.
The former Jeffers High School basketball standout recently received an award in Division III soccer for recording to the top saves average in the nation.
Makela, a sophomore at Finlandia, averaged 19.6 saves a game this past season.
FU coach Brent Chase said that Makela kept the Lions in a of games.
“Haley did an outstanding job for never having competed in the sport,” Chase noted. “She was consistent and you always look for that.”
While the Lions had a largely unsuccessful season, Makela said the experience was a good one.
“There’s a lot more to soccer than most people think there is,” she said. “I found it to be a lot of fun.”
Chase said that two things stood out about Makela.
“One, she’s tall (5-foot-10) and athletic,” he said. “Two, she has knack for being able to reach back to stop a shot. That’s very important in this game.”
Makela was among four Upper Peninsula athletes to come out for the team after word came out that FU might have a shortage of players in the sport.
Molly Berg of Hancock, Eden Klemett of Jeffers and Gabby Hebert of Negaunee were also on the roster.
Chase — a goaltender in college — said he and assistant coach Jordan Andrews were able to give Makela some tips on playing the position.
“I think the fact that we both had experience playing the position was an aid,” he said. “But she was enthusiastic about playing the game.”
Chase, in his third season on the job, said he has an outstanding group or recruits coming in next fall for both the men’s and women’s teams.
“There are prep soccer teams in Marquette, Kingsford and Escanaba,” he said. “And I believe Houghton has a club soccer team.”
The Lions coach said the attitude on the women’s team was outstanding.
“They went out there every day and had fun, whether it was practice or the games,” he said. “I think we established a good foundation for the future.”
Makela, who has played two years of basketball at Finlandia, expects to go out again.
“I enjoyed the experience of playing soccer,” she noted.
Athletes at Finlandia have crossed over to play other sports when asked to in the past.
Soccer player Chris Johnson played on FU’s first football team two years ago.