Berkley High boys soccer ranked as one of the best teams in the state

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published September 20, 2017

 Berkley High junior Charlie Voss, right, chases down the ball Sept. 7 during a 1-0 win against Troy High. Berkley coach Steve Wloszek said the Bears have the potential to do some impressive things going forward.

Berkley High junior Charlie Voss, right, chases down the ball Sept. 7 during a 1-0 win against Troy High. Berkley coach Steve Wloszek said the Bears have the potential to do some impressive things going forward.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Berkley High’s boys soccer team can lay claim to be being among the best Division 1 programs in the state, as at press time the Bears were ranked 13th by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.

The ranking has Berkley as the fourth-best team in Oakland County, behind only Rochester Adams, Troy Athens and Rochester High.

At press time, Berkley was 8-2-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.
This is coach Steve Wloszek’s eighth season leading the Bears, and being one of the top programs is something he said was his goal when he took the job.

Since Wloszek took over, Berkley’s accomplishments include winning an Oakland Activities Association White Division championship and moving up to the OAA Red.

Despite those achievements, Wloszek doesn’t consider his work to be fully accomplished yet.

“For years, Berkley had been a .500-type school or below .500, and didn’t really make many runs in the playoffs,” he said. “When I took over, my goal was to play at the highest level, and we were able to accomplish that by winning the White (and) being in the Red for the past five years. My goal is to continue to build on that every year.”

Berkley’s accomplishments have come despite competing against programs in Oakland County with a higher student population.

“So, (we’ve) got a little bit of an underdog mentality,” Wloszek said. “We’ve had that for the past five years in the Red, but we like that; we like being the underdog.”

Berkley’s high ranking didn’t happen by accident. Wloszek said the team returned 17 players from last year’s team and added a couple of players who previously played for the Vardar Academy.

Wloszek has a high opinion of the squad he has to work with this year.

“We have 22 on varsity, and all 22 can play,” he said. “In years past for Berkley, having the starting 11 is key, and then after that the depth might not be there. But this year (is) one of the deeper teams we’ve ever had. We’re able to play guys off the bench more than we have in years past.”

Berkley has advanced to a district championship game in two of the last three seasons. And although the Bears have a tough district to try to get through this season — including Troy Athens, which finished as the D-1 state runner-up last season — Wloszek wants his team to be one that makes a run in the playoffs every year.

The Bears’ chances of doing that can be improved by competing in the OAA Red.

“We’re playing against a lot of very talented teams in our league,” Wloszek said. “So, those tight one-goal games happen almost every league game. So, when it comes time for state playoffs, we’re used to that mentality; we’re used to that pressure. … There’s not an opponent in our district, in our region, that is any better than any team in our league.”

Goalie Jake Serwa — who along with Jackson Schodowski is a team captain — would like his senior season with the Bears to include a district championship.

“It would be awesome,” Serwa said. “We’re hoping that our experience and training can get us into the district championship and win that one that we’ve been waiting for.”

Berkley has dealt with some injuries this year. If the Bears are able to field a healthy squad as the season progresses, they could prove to be a dangerous team when postseason play begins.

“We haven’t really had a full game yet with our full squad,” Wloszek said. “When these bodies get healthy, we can do some pretty impressive things going forward.”