Royal OakMay 21, 2014
Royal Oak High girls soccer hopes to make run in postseason
By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer
As the regular season begins to wind down, the Royal Oak High girls soccer team is setting its sights on the postseason, where a familiar foe awaits.
The Ravens take on Troy High, the defending Division 1 state champions, at 6 p.m. May 26 at home in the opening round of districts.
When the squads met earlier this season in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, Troy got the better of Royal Oak in a 1-0 decision.
“There were equal chances both ways, and eventually their goal came from a mistake,” coach Kevin Robb remembered, noting his squad hit the post twice in the game and missed an open net. “We have to capitalize on those chances, because they don’t come very often. If you don’t put away those chances, they will.”
Robb said his team is excited for another shot at the Colts.
“When we asked them who they wanted to play, they all said Troy. Obviously, they wanted to play them in the district championship, but I told them that even though this isn’t the final, if they can get through this, that’s getting over one of the hardest hurdles,” the coach said.
On the way to Troy’s state championship last season, the Colts beat Royal Oak 2-1 in districts, giving the Ravens confidence that it can play with the elite teams in the state.
“We’re there; we can compete. I tell my girls that a lot of the time, it’s about who wants it, and it comes down to who can play the cleanest and capitalize on mistakes,” Robb said.
If Royal Oak does get past Troy, Robb knows the rest of the bracket still offers plenty of challenges with perhaps Bloomfield Hills High waiting in the semifinal — Bloomfield Hills plays Southfield-Lathrup in the first round.
The other side of the bracket has Troy Athens and Birmingham Groves playing in the opening round, with the winner meeting Birmingham Seaholm for a chance at the district title.
“There’s no easy way around it,” Robb said.
The coach added that the schedule in the Red and the strong nonconference slate has helped improve the Ravens, who were 8-5-2 overall and 2-4 in the division.
“We knew we weren’t going to win the Red against teams like (Rochester Hills) Stoney Creek and Rochester Adams. They are such powerhouses. For us, it’s about getting as far as we can in (the playoffs),” the coach said. “Get some wins in there during the regular season and know there are going to be some losses, but that’s how you get better.”
He added that the biggest improvement his team needs to make is limiting turnovers and improving its defense in the midfield.
“A lot of that is reading the other team — can you anticipate a pass or a chip? It’s anticipation more than reaction. If you can, even just a little bit to get a percentage advantage, sometimes that makes all the difference in the world,” Robb said.
On the other side, Robb said his squad’s biggest strength is its chemistry, buoyed by his three captains — seniors Nerissa Zoller and Samantha Bartelotti, and junior Lauren Vos.
“We only have four seniors and only three of them are playing. One got injured earlier in the year, so the rest are (juniors, sophomores and freshmen),” he said. “So it’s a nice mix, and the captains have put the team under their wings, mentoring the other players, and they’ve all responded to that. … If you have great chemistry and are willing to work hard for yourself and your teammates, good things will come.”