Adrian girls soccer coach Rangariro Mutatu talks with his team during a game at home against Tecumseh in the 2023 season.
ADRIAN — Nobody on the Adrian girls high school soccer team coming into the season had seen much success on the pitch.
The seniors went through the lost COVID season as freshmen, sophomore season the Maples had one win and only four wins last season.
So a program-record 13 wins was not on the radar going into 2023. At least not for anyone outside of the program.
“We’d been looking forward to this group for a few years,” said head coach Rangariro Mutatu. “I coached them when they were playing travel soccer at U-11 and U-12, so I knew the talent that they had.”
Mutatu knew the talent he had coming in and, while only winning five games in the last two seasons, knew had an experienced group of upperclassmen.
Those two came together for a program best 13-5-1 record, including two wins against Chelsea before the Bulldogs got the best of the Maples in district play.
For leading Adrian to its memorable season, Mutatu has been named the Lenawee County Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.
“There is a big difference between my hope and the actual thing,” Mutatu said. “When you get to see them play and see how far they’ve grown, it’s amazing.”
One of the impact athletes he welcomed in was standout freshman forward Ayla Tindall.
Tindall made a quick splash as led the team with a single-season record 38 goals to go with five assists.
“I knew that Ayla Tindall was going to be special,” Mutatu said. “I wasn’t expecting her to score 38 goals as a freshman.”
Along with Tindall in the freshmen class was midfielder Jaleigh Niese and defender Ella Salenbien.
Those three, along with a few others, helped spark the Maples’ breakout season.
I kept an eye on them while they were developing, so I knew they were going to be special. But once the seasons started I knew this was going to be something different than what we’ve had.”
Adrian certainly was different this season and with the bulk of the roster returning one, two and, for many, three more seasons, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Maples girls soccer.
Adrian made a splash, but now the returning group will look to leave a mark and begin a run at some titles to go along with the double-digit wins.
“At the end of the day we really want to add some hardware,” Mutatu said. “Moving forward next year, that’s got to be the goal now. Winning districts, the SEC and go further into the postseason tournament. That’s what our expectation is now and there is no reason to doubt ourselves.
“The work starts now and we’re already starting to put in the work for next year.”
This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Adrian’s Mutatu earns Lenawee County Girls Soccer Coach of the Year