CLAWSON — It was the last day of April, and the Clawson High girls soccer team had just dropped another heartbreaker.
This time, it was a 2-1 defeat to Macomb Area Conference Gold Division foe Warren Mott.
Following the game, coach Tom Pavlovich sat with his players in the stands and discussed what was wrong and why the Trojans were 1-2-1 in the Gold at that point, a mark unaccustomed to the program after winning three straight division championships.
The team then met the following day, hours before a rematch with Mott.
“We did a walk-through on offense and gave specific tasks, very specific tasks: ‘You will do this no matter the situation,’” Pavlovich remembered.
Clawson then went on to beat Mott 3-1 that evening.
“It produced three goals very easily,” the coach said. “That night-and-day change made me very happy, and the girls, too.”
The Trojans continued to produce results, winning their last three at press time, pushing them to 4-2-1 in the division and 5-3-2 overall.
“We had a slow start, but once they started using my game plan more, it’s picked up and been a lot better soccer,” Pavlovich said.
The coach noted that the problem before was the team would send long passes to open spaces, hoping a teammate could get to it. Pavlovich said it spread the offense out too far, leaving little help to the forwards to score.
His offense is predicated on quick, short passes with players reading and attacking where the open space will be.
Pavlovich said he believes the prior style of play came more from a lack of time to practice outside, noting that the first game of the year was their first time playing outside.
“I think part of it was that we didn’t have enough room to spread out and have a real practice in the early part of the season. If you break it down, we’re undefeated in the second half,” he said. “I don’t think they had a chance to internalize and naturalize those movements on the field.”
With the Trojans now clicking, winning the Gold is still a possibility. Clawson has to win the rest of its games, including two against St. Clair High and one against Marine City High. Those squads were tied atop the division at press time, and Clawson tied Marine City earlier in the season.
“We’re not out of it, by any means. We have a long road ahead if we want to pull another one out, but it’s definitely a possibility,” Pavlovich said.
Catch the Trojans against St. Clair at 6 p.m. May 14 on the road and at 7 p.m. May 16 at home.