SUTTONS BAY — Aaron Orban officially put himself in the running to be the goalkeeper next season at Davenport College on Friday.
Suttons Bay’s all-state netminder signed a letter of intent with the Panthers on Friday at Suttons Bay High School, where he has a chance to step in right away and earn a starting role with the highly-successful NAIA program.
“If I work hard and give it my all right from the get-go I have a chance of getting a starting position,” said Orban. “So I’m really excited about that.
“It’s really exciting. Right as I got to the campus and the coach (Chris Hughes) talked to me about his program I was immediately pulled in by his words and what he’s done to the program and how he’s improved it.”
Davenport is coming off a season where it won a school record 19 games, went undefeated in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference and advanced to the NAIA national tournament, where it lost to No. 18 Indiana Wesleyan 5-0. It was just the second trip to the national tournament in school history.
“It’s a good fit because they’re a great program, a great, competitive program and Aaron is a competitor,” said Suttons Bay head coach Tom Spencer. “I’m just so happy for Aaron. Coming from a program up here in the north, we don’t get the most recognition in the world.”
Orban was only lightly recruited, with Davenport showing the most interest. In fact, the only other schools that even sent ocassional emails were Oakton Community College in Illinois and Western Michigan — this despite recording seven shutouts and an incredible 230 saves in his third season as the starting keeper for the Norsemen. He earned second team all-state honors.
“Aaron kept us in games that we didn’t belong competing in,” said Spencer, noting he’s excited about the prospect of seeing what Orban can do when surrounded by college-level talent. “There’s no doubt Aaron made us far more competitive. I always told other teams, ‘Good luck. Don’t send one guy because he’s going to stop you. Send two if you want to score.’
“He’s fearless. He comes out and challenges everything. For me, the whole thing with Aaron was one stat. He saved three out of four penalty kicks this year. I didn’t say they missed. He saved three out of four. That’s not luck. That’s goaltending. The guy reads it and he’s very intuitive on what the shooters are doing. He knows what he’s doing.”
Those skills, and the situation Orban is entering — the Panthers are graduating all-region keeper Mirza Harambasic — mean Orban has a good chance to see immediate playing time.
“He needed to go to a place where he was going to be in position to compete for playing time right away,” said Spencer. “I’d hate to see Aaron go sit down on a bench and watch soccer somewhere. The goalie position at Davenport is up for grabs. Given the chance to compete, Aaron will compete and win. I don’t have any doubt in my mind.”
Orban believes he definitely has something to offer Davenport.
“I think I can make the team better,” he said. “I think I can bring energy to the team and I’m excited for what lies ahead for the future. I think I’m going to be part of something great. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year coming up and a few good years to come.”