AAotW Louis Michelon & Austin Schoenmann

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MEDFORD, Ore. —┬áThe North Medford boys soccer team is fighting for its second consecutive league title. Head coach Michael Belzberg says its because of the family atmosphere created by his team.

“It makes more comradeship,”said Belzberg. “Guys are high-fiving. They’re just shaking hands. They have this special handshake. You can’t really teach that. You can encourage that type of stuff, but that’s just playing with your buddies and having great relationships on and off the field.”

It helps to have an actual family creating that atmosphere. Center midfielder Austin Schoenmann and defenseman Louis Michelon are cousins who have a long history of playing soccer together.

“It’s so fun when you play with your best friends and your buddies, and these guys are cousins, but they’re like brothers,”said Belzberg. “They’re like best friends. To see them out on the field, they just have a blast together.”

“I don’t see him as a friend,” said Schoenmann. “I seem him as a brother mostly because we’ve grown up together.”

They have been playing soccer together since pre-school.

“It’s basically every day we always kicked the ball around or do whatever, you know,” said Michelon. “We just love the game a lot so it’s just what we do.”

That history of playing together also gives Austin and Louis an edge on the field.

“I mean, playing on the same team for eight years, we kind of know what we’re going to do before the other person knows,” said Schoenmann. “Just playing during the games, we’ll look at each other and know what we’re going to do.”

“Yeah, it’s basically like a mental connection,” said Michelon. “It’s like psychic powers I guess. It’s just kind of developed over time.”

“I think they just set the tone,” said Belzberg. “Even though those guys are cousins, they’re all like cousins out there. They’re all brothers, and they’re playing as a good unit right now.”