BirminghamMay 21, 2012
Groves girls soccer hopes to contend for district title
By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer
It looks as if the girls soccer team from Birmingham Groves won’t have the opportunity to celebrate a league title this season.
At press time, the Falcons were 8-5-3 overall and 8-3-3 in the Oakland Activities Blue Division, trailing both Farmington and Ferndale for the top spot in the league.
Although there may not be enough time to catch the teams in front of them in the OAA Blue, the Falcons still have an opportunity to accomplish perhaps their biggest goal of the season.
Groves has not won a district championship since 1999, and coach Joe McCarty is hoping that his team can help make some new history.
“That’s our goal. That was our goal at the beginning of the season,” he said.
“We started out pretty slow, but learned what went wrong. We’re fixing it now and just getting better every game. Now it’s just, finish the season strong. The rest of the district, it’s pretty tough. Got Berkley, Farmington, North Farmington (and) Seaholm in there, so it’s anybody’s district.”
McCarty has some players who may be able to help turn the goal of winning a district title into a reality. Goalkeeper Lucy Mailing has received All-Conference and All-District honors in each of her previous three seasons minding the net, and with 10 shutouts thus far, she very well could be in line for more accolades at the end of the season. Mailing has committed to play soccer and basketball for Kalamazoo College next season.
Forward Parisa Shifteh is attempting to do her part on the offensive end; the junior had 12 goals and five assists at press time.
McCarty said he is pleased to have weapons on both ends of the field.
(Mailing’s) the backbone of our team,” he said. “She’s a fourth-year starter, very solid — great kid, great athlete, great attitude, great leader. My team MVP last year as a junior, and (she’ll) probably get it again this year. We typically don’t score a lot of goals, so it’s nice to have someone in goal that will save you some on the other end.
“(Shifteh’s) got a great foot, a great knack to score goals. She’s got great speed, good size and great field awareness. Wherever the ball goes, she’s there. She’s very tough. She’s one of those players that you love to have on your team but would hate to play against.”
Mailing, Courtney Howe, Mia Orlow, Katie Burke and Laurel Cerier represent the team’s five seniors. McCarty, who is in his fifth year at the helm at Groves, credits his upperclassmen for helping to make his job easy.
“Very proud of these girls, and especially these five seniors, which have been there the whole time I’ve been there.” He said. “That whole group was on the same club team I coached, so I’ve had them probably for six, seven years now. Definitely going to miss them. Either starting or coming off the bench, everybody’s got a great attitude, and you got to have that.
“They’re good leaders (and) great kids. They’ve been a big part of the program the last four years.”
While winning a district title would mark off a big item on Groves’ to-do list, McCarty has even loftier long-term ambitions. The Groves team that won a district championship in 1999 also captured a state title that same year, and while McCarty can’t know exactly what the future may hold, he does like the potential of his Falcons.
“Lately, we’ve been getting the talent coming out,” he said. “They all play together at the club level, so they’re all familiar with each other. That helps out in the long run. We’re getting back to where we would like to be. We don’t want to be that pushover in the league, and we’re going to play everybody hard.
“We’re looking to get back on the map, get back to where people fear and respect us. At least this year, and the last couple years, we’ve been there.”
The Falcons will play in the opening round of the district tournament at 5 p.m. May 29 against Southfield Lathrup at Groves High School.
The other teams in Groves’ district are Berkley, Birmingham Seaholm, Farmington, Farmington Hills-Mercy and North Farmington.