BerkleyMay 23, 2012
Berkley girls soccer team wins league championship; awaits district tournament
By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer
A big part of playing sports is the memories they can provide, and the girls soccer team from Berkley may have plenty of fond ones to look back on when it reflects on the 2012 season.
The Bears, along with Royal Oak, won a share of the Oakland Activities Association White Division with a 7-1-2 record — 11-1-2 overall at press time. First-year coach Alan Zakaria believes it is the first league championship in the history of the girls soccer program at Berkley.
Senior goalkeeper Julie Shields recalled looking at the banners in the gymnasium at Berkley her freshman year and noticing that the only empty spot was for girls soccer. She wanted to be part of a team that would change that and is glad she had the opportunity to do so before calling it a career at Berkley.
“Doing it this year was amazing,” she said. “We worked so hard, and we deserve it.”
Senior Stephanie Miller, who along with Shields captains the squad, didn’t know what to expect entering this season.
“It feels really good,” she said. “After coming in with a new coach this season — we had the same coach the last three years — we didn’t know how we were going to do. To finally win leagues feels amazing. That was one (goal) we wanted to accomplish.”
Zakaria also wasn’t quite sure of what to expect heading into this season. Although he believed there were some formidable opponents in the OAA White, he took a look at the schedule and thought the division was wide open.
Zakaria has some thoughts as to why it was the Bears who eventually came out on top.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls,” he said. “All the credit goes to them. They should be proud of the effort, commitment and dedication they’ve put in every day at practice, (and) every day at games, together as a team. My mentality is if we take care of the little things, focus on just getting better every day and playing for each other, the championships will take care of themselves. We’re extremely proud to finish on top.”
Championships are often born as a result of great leadership, and that is exactly what Zakaria believes he has received from his two captains.
“Julie Shields and Stephanie Miller have just been outstanding leaders for us and have been great role models for the team to follow,” he said. “They come every practice, every game, focused and ready to go. Great characteristics of champions they exhibit.”
Some of the members of the current squad were also around in 2010, when they made history by capturing the girls soccer program’s first district championship. Shields, Miller, Caitlin O’Neill, Samantha Munoz, Karsyn Baker and Jordyn MacKool represent the squad’s six seniors, and Zakaria is hoping they have the opportunity to be a part of yet another championship before finishing their careers at Berkley.
“It would be a tremendous accomplishment,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a competitive district. It’s going to come down to the little things. The teams that stay focused (and) play for each other are the teams that have the best shot of continuing to move forward in the districts.”
Shields added that she would like to cap off the season with another district championship banner. She believes there is enough talent on the Bears’ roster to do just that.
“We won it for the first time in program history (my) sophomore year,” she said. “Repeating it, but with different girls this time, would be great. I’m positive we can do it. We have a strong team.”
The Bears will play in the opening round of the district tournament at 7 p.m. May 29 against North Farmington at North Farmington High School.
The other teams in Berkley’s district are Birmingham Groves, Birmingham Seaholm, Farmington and Farmington Hills-Mercy.
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