Pliakos brothers reflect on first collegiate season together

By: Timothy Pontzer | Rochester Post | Published December 5, 2017

 Brothers Spiro (7) and Demetri (8) Pliakos stand in the starting lineup prior to a Sept. 26 contest at Ohio State University. The Rochester High grads are making their mark at Detroit Mercy.

Brothers Spiro (7) and Demetri (8) Pliakos stand in the starting lineup prior to a Sept. 26 contest at Ohio State University. The Rochester High grads are making their mark at Detroit Mercy.

Photo provided by Detroit Mercy athletics

DETROIT — In the span of a few seconds, Spiro Pliakos went through nearly every emotion possible on a soccer field.

The University of Detroit Mercy senior forward connected off a perfect pass in the box, scoring his seventh goal of the season that had only seen eight games go by. But as Pliakos pushed the ball past the keeper, his leg got caught in the turf, causing a painful combination of a sprained MCL in his knee and a high-ankle sprain.

The injury caused Pliakos to miss over a month of his final collegiate season, a situation he was all too familiar with. While a senior at Rochester High, Pliakos broke his ankle, and various ailments had nagged him during his time with the Titans.

“Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with some injuries, but coming back is something I’ve done before,” Pliakos explained. “I wasn’t going to have that be my last game. I wanted to be able to help out, even if I wasn’t 100 percent.”

His injury also spoiled what was already a special night. The Sept. 26 contest saw Detroit Mercy tie a highly ranked Ohio State University team on the road and showcase a one-two Pliakos punch in the lineup.

The night saw Spiro and his younger brother, Demetri, start for the first time together at the college level. The two had played countless games side by side at the club level and with the Falcons, and to finally achieve that with the Titans meant a lot to the duo.

“It was really special to finally be out there together,” said Demetri Pliakos, who is a freshman midfielder for the Titans. “It is obviously different than high school. It took me a while to get used to the speed of the game, but Spiro helped me a lot, giving me great advice. He pushes me, and I really learned from what he’s doing. I felt terrible when he went down, because we had finally gotten our shot together.”

While Spiro Pliakos stayed on the sidelines with his injury, he did everything he could to help his brother and other teammates.

“I wanted to be out there with him, but it helped to see Demetri doing well,” the older brother explained. “I was coaching and helping in any way I could. I refused to just sit there with a frown on my face. I made sure to help with his confidence — that’s always the hardest thing during your freshman year.”

Demetri Pliakos earned another start Oct. 25 against another Big Ten power at the University of Michigan. Overall, he logged 293 minutes on the year, notching an assist and six shots.

Spiro Pliakos returned to the pitch Oct. 28 for the final regular-season game. The two brothers then helped lead the Titans to the program’s first postseason win in nine years after beating the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in penalty kicks in the Horizon League playoff opener.

“It meant a lot for (US) to be out there for that,” Spiro Pliakos said.

The Titans fell in their next game 3-1 to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to end the year at 7-8-4 overall.

Detroit Mercy coach Nicholas Deren praised the two brothers for what they brought to the program.

“Both are fantastic additions to this team,” Deren remarked. “I recruited Spiro since he was 16, which meant I saw Demetri since he was about 13. It was amazing to be able to start the two of them; they worked hard and deserved it.”

Back in Rochester, their old prep coach called them both some of the best he’s ever seen put on a Falcons uniform.

“Both were four-year players for me, and that’s very rare,” Rochester coach Chris Purgatori said. “I knew early on they both could be special.”

Spiro Pliakos finished his collegiate career with 18 goals and 17 assists, giving him 53 total points in 62 games. Despite only playing 13 games this year, he was named Second Team All-Horizon League. He became only the second player in program history to earn All-Conference honors in each of his four seasons.

He is set to finish Detroit Mercy’s five-year MBA program next year. He will return to the soccer team as a graduate assistant, hoping to see his brother continue to succeed.

“I’m happy to be able to help the team still. It’s good to have guys have a coach close to them in age who they can be comfortable coming to,” Spiro Pliakos said.