FRUITPORT – Under different circumstances, Logan Werschem might have been a four-year starter in high school soccer, just like Justin Laus.

But the timing wasn’t right at Fruitport, because when Werschem was a promising freshman goalie, Laus was a junior with two years remaining in his outstanding varsity career.

So Werschem had to be patient and wait for his opportunity.

He took advantage of the down time by aggressively developing his skills and physical stature, so he would be ready when his moment came.

Logan Werschem

“I have a personal trainer I go to three times a week,” said Werschem, a junior who became a goalie in youth soccer, following in the footsteps of his father and his older brother, Brian Werschem, a former Fruitport keeper.

“At the gym I do a lot of strength and agility stuff – regular stuff like squats and bench pressing – but also stuff unique to goaltending that helps my hand-eye coordination, jumping, stuff like that.

“I also go to goalie training once or twice a week. I remember when I didn’t do anything like that. I was getting better slowly. When I started training it just skyrocketed.”

By the time Werschem became the starter for Fruitport this season, he was clearly up to the task, which became obvious right away in the first game.

The Trojans were playing a tough Mona Shores squad and the Sailors were rewarded with a penalty kick inside the goal box less than five minutes into the contest.

Most of the time in those situations the penalty shot finds the back of the net, because the shooter is so close, the goal is so tall and wide, and the goalie can only guess where the shot will go.

Werschem goes high to stop the ball in the season opener against Mona Shores. Photo/Jeremy Clark

As it turned out, Werschem guessed correctly, made a great save, and went on to lead the Trojans to a big 3-2 season-opening victory.

It was a huge night for Werschem and a big reward for his patience and dedication.

He admits it was kind of tough to wait his turn through two years of high school, but it made sense at the time and is really paying off now.

“Playing through the years, I understood what was going on, what coach had in mind and why I had to wait,” Werschem said. “I was nervous. I didn’t know if I could compete at this level and be able to live up to what (Laus) built with this team, but it started out pretty well.”

Things have continued to go well for Werschem since that big opening night win.

Werschem, on the right, operates in heavy traffic around the Fruitport goal. Photo/Jeremy Clark

He posted shutouts against Shelby and West Michigan Aviation Academy, gave up only one goal against Whitehall, Ludington and Hamilton, and helped Fruitport start the season with a 6-0 record.

The team’s first loss came on Aug. 31, 2-1 to Holland Christian, but Werschem was good in that game, too, stopping 8 of 10 shots against a talented opponent.

The Trojans followed that last week with a grueling 1-1 tie against Allendale, another very good conference opponent.

That tie could have easily been a loss without Werschem, who stopped 12 shots on a very busy night.

All the positive results so far have Fruitport head coach Dan Hazekamp feeling pretty blessed in the goalkeeper department.

“Logan hasn’t missed a beat,” he said. “He’s picked up right where Justin left off. I said it last year, and it was no exaggeration – Logan would have started for a lot of teams. He would have been an easy Day 1 starter. We have such a great tradition of goalkeepers in our program. We feel really, really lucky.”

Werschem clears the ball out of the Fruitport zone. Photo/Jeremy Clark

Hazekamp said Werschem was ready to excel physically and has also shown a lot of crucial improvement mentally.

“Technically he’s always been a good goalie,” the coach said. “One of the things we challenged him with was the mental end of things. The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, and when you give up a goal you have to mentally stay composed, rally the guys in front of you and move on. In those areas we see him continue to grow.”

Werschem knows that’s an area he has to remain focused on.

“Every time I get scored on, I try to focus on being able to reset and be ready for the next play,” he said. “It has been kind of a struggle. That really only started when I started playing varsity. In JV I wasn’t too worried about it, but varsity matters a lot more. It hurts a lot more when I’m scored on.”

Werschem’s goalkeeping career has started to broaden in several different ways.

He was recently accepted to play in the elite Michigan Rangers travel soccer program, which competes on a schedule that doesn’t interfere with fall high school soccer.

Werschem and his teammates are off to a great start with a 6-1-1 record so far this season. Photo/Jeremy Clark

He was also selected to train this winter for a tryout with Michigan’s junior Olympic development team.

Werschem has earned all of it through hard work, according to Hazekamp.

“He’s had an incredibly disciplined workout regimen during and outside the season,” the coach said. ‘He’s worked on his own independently and with goalie coaches. He’s been committed to improving on his own. It’s all a result of his own investment and his desire to play at the next level.”

Werschem said he was surprised about the Olympic development opportunity and is excited to pursue it this winter – after the varsity season is over and he has helped the Trojans accomplish as much as they can.

Fruitport only returned five starters from last year’s squad but has found success with a lot of younger guys like Werschem filling holes left open by graduated seniors.

“I think ever since tryouts we knew our team was going to be very good,” Werschem said. “The overall skill level is definitely better than in some of the past years.”