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October 23, 2013

Cranbrook uses overtime to beat Avondale, win district — again

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Cranbrook uses overtime to beat Avondale, win district — again
Guys on the Cranbrook soccer team celebrate a goal during the district semifinal. The Cranes went on to beat Avondale 2-1 in the final, earning a spot in a regional semifinal against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — A full year had passed since the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood boys soccer team claimed a Division 2 district title.

Not much else has changed, though.

“We don’t mind being redundant,” coach Chad O’Kulich said with a laugh a day after his squad beat Auburn Hills Avondale 2-1 in overtime at home in the district championship game. The Cranes eliminated Avondale in 2012 in the same game, by the same score, also in overtime. “Truthfully, we’re honored to be on the field against a great opponent and have the chance to compete the way we did.”

Avondale took a 1-0 lead in the game just 10 minutes into regulation.

Cranbrook tied things up with five minutes remaining in the opening frame on a goal by John Whiting.

Jack Christides, who assisted on the first goal, notched the game-winner with eight minutes remaining in the second overtime.

“It was a great game,” O’Kulich said. “These were two teams with sound goaltending, strong defense and highly motivated. To come out of here with a win was pretty awesome. We executed the chances we had.”

The Cranbrook boys program had never won consecutive district titles before.

“To do something that’s never been done is pretty exciting,” O’Kulich said. “We were here a year ago, but you can’t take any of it for granted.”

The win moved the Cranes to 16-1-2 on the season.

“We’re a very fit team, and I think our level of play is maintained from one half to the next,” O’Kulich said. “On top of that, the guys are very disciplined. They practice the way they play. They have great class, and the biggest thing is everyone on this team is treated equally. That goes a long way.”

The Cranes are set to face St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 at Lake Shore in regionals.

“The key is taking it all one game at a time,” O’Kulich said. “We know, at this stage, anybody can beat anybody. We have to prepare the same way we have been, play to our strengths and take advantage of what we can.”

Cranbrook reached the state semifinals last year before falling to Petoskey High.

In other district final action
Birmingham Roeper shook off years of frustration and grasped a district trophy for the first time since 2008.

“This is huge — a big deal for our kids and our program,” coach Ed Sack said after his guys beat Southfield Christian 2-1 in a Division 4 final at Plymouth Christian. “These guys have been through a lot, done a lot to get to this point. It’s just awesome to finally get it.”

Southfield Christian scored first in the final, but Max Whipple tied the game at 1-1 for Roeper, and Simon Roennecke notched the winner shortly after.

Roeper improved to 17-4-0 and took on Ann Arbor Greenhills at the Madison Heights Bishop Foley in a regional semifinal after press time.

The title game, against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett or Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 24.

In a D-1 district final at Berkley High, Bloomfield Hills High beat Royal Oak 1-0 to claim the first championship in the program’s history.

Bloomfield beat Brother Rice 2-1 in the semifinal, after getting past Beverly Hills Groves 4-1 in the opener.

Bloomfield Hills faced Fraser High in a regional semifinal after press time.

The regional final, against Macomb Dakota or Utica High, is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 25 at Grosse Pointe North.

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