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October 31, 2012

Cranbrook soccer claims regional title, faces Petoskey in semifinal

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Cranbrook soccer claims regional title, faces Petoskey in semifinal
The Cranbrook soccer team celebrate a goal during the district final. The Cranes face Petoskey is a D-2 semifinal Oct. 31 in Midland.

Three seasons ago, a 2-1 loss in the state semifinals kept the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood soccer team from having a chance at a state title.

On Oct. 31, the Cranes have their shot at redemption.

“We wanted to see Petoskey, and now we have that chance,” coach Chad O’Kulich said of the Division 2 semifinal, set for 6 p.m. at Midland High against the same team that ousted his guys in 2009. “It’s a great rematch, something we were hoping for.”

Cranbrook earned the spot in the semifinal thanks to a 1-0 victory against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in an Oct. 27 regional final.

Constantin Kirberger notched the Cranes’ lone goal midway through the first half.

“It’s a huge win for the school, this team and the entire soccer community,” O’Kulich boasted. “The kids have been so classy all season, working so hard for something like this. The fact we have the opportunity we do now is awesome.”

According to O’Kulich, the Cranes (17-2-1) just have to do what’s worked so far.

“Petoskey is a great team, one that plays soccer together year round,” O’Kulich added. “They understand so much about each other and how to play well. For us, we just have to play within our system. We have to play as a team and believe we can win. There’s not a whole lot we have to change.”

Champs no more
When the season began, Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day coach Bob Bukari didn’t exactly like being called a defending state champ.

“Because we really weren’t,” he explained. “We only had three guys back from that team when this year started.”

Still, as the year wore on, the Yellowjackets got stronger and stronger.

Slowly but surely, the defending-champ label started to fit.

As it would go, Country Day ended just two wins shy of having a chance to repeat.

“This season was a huge accomplishment,” Bukari said following his team’s 3-1 loss to Grosse Ile High in a D-2 regional final. “I give all the credit in the world to these guys. They came such a long way to get to this point.”

Country Day closed out 2012 with a 15-8-3 record.

“Technically, these guys are only going to get better by next year,” Bukari said of the majority of the roster, which should return in 2013. “I think we’re going to be very, very good moving forward.”

Groves falls in final
Beverly Hills Groves had its season come to a close in a D-1 regional final in 1-0 loss to Utica Ford.

Groves ended the season 12-6-8.

“It’s a great year,” coach Jim Stachura said. “These guys always knew they had some talent, but I’m not sure they knew how much. It’s unfortunate to have it end the way it did. The bottom line is, we’ve got to do some of the little things, and I think that’s what we learned this year. To get to the next step, we should take heed to what Ford did today.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.