Groves and Bloomfield Hills set to meet with season on the line

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 9, 2013

 Groves soccer coach Jim Stachura and his squad are 1-2 this season against Bloomfield Hills. The teams meet for a fourth time in 2013 in the district opener.

Groves soccer coach Jim Stachura and his squad are 1-2 this season against Bloomfield Hills. The teams meet for a fourth time in 2013 in the district opener.

Photo by Donna Agusti

A rivalry played three times over during the regular season will see a fourth chapter.

Only this time, the stakes couldn’t be higher when two of the best teams in the area square off in a Division 1 district opener.

“It’s kind of a catch-22. You like to play a team you’ve seen a few times, but this is one of the best teams in the district, and it’s going to be tough seeing them right off the bat,” Beverly Groves soccer coach Jim Stachura said. “They will know everything about us. We’ll know everything about them.”

Stachura and his Groves squad will face Bloomfield Hills High at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Berkley High district.

“We’re looking forward to going right after it,” Bloomfield coach Dougie MacAulay said. “I don’t think there’s an easy game or easy team in this whole district, so we might as well get after it with Groves and let the best team win.”

The teams squared off at the start of the season during the Country Day tournament and Bloomfield drew blood first with a 2-1 victory.

Groves took the middle meeting 5-0 on the road, but Bloomfield won the third regular-season meeting 1-0 on a free kick.

“I don’t know if one team has an advantage or if anybody is favored, but we know if we are on our game, we can win,” MacAulay said. “We saw it twice this season in close games. They won the big one by five goals, but we were playing a bunch of games that week and weren’t at our best.”

At press time, Groves was 9-8-2 overall and atop the Oakland Activities Association White Division with an 8-1-1 mark.

Bloomfield was 9-2-3 overall and 5-1-3 in the White.

“The third game was about as close as you can have,” Stachura said. “They got one good look at the end, and a good team will take advantage of that. I expect a playoff game to be just like that — a one-goal affair that can go either way. You hope to work a little harder and get a good bounce here or there.

Groves reached the regional final in 2012, eventually falling to Utica High 1-0.

If there’s an advantage he sees his team may have, Stachura said it could be that experience.

“We’ve been through this before as a team,” he said. “These guys know what it’s like to play in pressure games like this. … A game like this usually comes down to execution, and I’m hoping our playoff unity gives us a little edge.”

“We know them, and they know us,” MacAulay added. “They are going to come out and play with passion, and we have to do the same. They’ve been through this before, but we’ve seen that we can beat them this year. So I don’t know if there’s any real advantages. We just expect a good soccer game from both teams.”

The game’s winner will face either Brother Rice or Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup in a 7 p.m. Oct. 17 semifinal.

The other half of the draw includes the University of Detroit Jesuit, Berkley, Royal Oak High and Seaholm.

The district final is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 19, also at Berkley.