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April 24, 2013

Berkley High girls soccer looks forward to challenge of new division

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

For Berkley High girls soccer coach Alan Zakaria, the program is moving in the right direction.

Last season, the Bears won their first division championship in girls soccer, besting the rest of the field in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.

This year, Berkley has made the move to the OAA Red.

“Without a doubt, in my opinion, it’s the top league in the state. As a coaching staff, we think it’s a good challenge to play the best teams in the state. It really sharpens the focus, and it also exposes your weaknesses,” he said. “I think it really says a lot of where the program is, and where it’s going.

“I think we like the challenge and embrace it. I know the girls are up for it, too.”

At press time, the Bears were 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Red with losses to Troy High and Troy Athens.

Against Troy, the Bears gave up the winning goal with a second remaining in regulation.

“I’ve never been part of a game like that before, but it’s a good lesson for the girls,” the coach said. “It’s better to learn that early in the season than later in the season.”

Learning from each experience and using it to make them better is the goal, according to Zakaria.

“Every game, every practice, we need to improve. You’re never a finished product; we’re always going to try and improve. Take our game to another level on each occasion,” he said. “With that, the results and championships take care of themselves.”

Along with last season’s league championship, the Bears hope to add another first. Berkley has never won a Division 1 district title, losing last season in the final to Farmington Hills Mercy on penalty kicks.

Zakaria believes the move to the Red will help them when this postseason rolls around.

“When we get to districts, we’ll have faced the top teams in the state, and it will have all been good lessons to learn during the season,” he said. 

While moving into the Red is an accomplishment, Zakaria knows that becoming a fixture in the Red is a program statement.

With a roster that is a mix of upper and underclassmen, the coach said he believes the program will maintain its high level of play.

“It bodes well for the future,” he said.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.