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September 25, 2013

Defending Gold Division champs starting to find their footing

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Clawson’s Jared Ocampo (1) battles for the ball with a Tower player during a 4-1 victory Sept. 18. Clawson was 6-4 at press time and unbeaten in MAC Gold play.

WARREN — He returned seven starters from a division-winning team.

He brought back a ton of experience from guys who had played some major roles a year ago.

Yet, when the 2013 soccer season started, Clawson High head coach Jarred Kullman wondered exactly what kind of group he’d be working with, and just how good they could actually be.

“We had a lot of guys back, but I knew many of them would be asked to do different things this year,” Kullman explained. “It was a different system, so to speak, that we had to adjust to, given who we graduated.”

The main departures are Tyler Jugan, a four-year starter in the middle and a four-year All-State recipient, and Alex Maison, a three-year starter in goal who had also garnered All-State recognition during his career.

“It’s certainly taken some adjustments,” senior Nathan Cole, a 2012 All-State recipient said following a 4-1 victory at Warren Woods Tower last week. “We lost some pretty crucial guys from last year’s team, and we needed guys to step into bigger roles. We knew this wouldn’t be a team that relied as much on individuals as it did on the team approach.”

Whatever the method has been, it’s slowly but surely come together.

The 4-1 victory at Tower was dominance from start to finish.

Before the game, Kullman said he wanted to see a complete effort on both ends of the field from his guys.

Minutes in, Andrew Hasley gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead, and before halftime, Cote had scored two of his eventual three goals.

Defensively, Clawson hardly allowed Tower to breathe and surrendered the lone goal with just 40 second remaining in regulation.

“I like the way we’re playing right now,” Kullman said after the game. “I like a lot of what we saw here tonight.”

He’s liked it a lot, lately.

After somewhat of a slow start, Clawson was 6-4-0 at press time, and the defending Macomb Area Conference Gold champs were 4-0 in division play.

“We’re working pretty hard to get everything on track,” said junior Evan DeCiantis. “Like (Cole) said, it’s more of a team effort we have to put forth. It’s all about working and communicating together, as we have.”

The 4-0 start in the Gold gave Clawson 12 points at press time, one ahead of St. Clair High (3-0-2).

“League title is the first goal, for sure,” Kullman said. “But I think these guys are looking to take things to the next level, as well.”

Clawson roared into last year’s district round only to be ousted by Country Day in a 3-2 overtime decision.

“A district title is what this team is capable of,” DeCiantis said.

“We came into the season expecting to compete,” Kullman said. “I think as time has gone on, these guys have realized what it takes to be even better. Now, it’s on them to go out and accomplish what they want to.”

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