Royal Oak High girls soccer coach Kevin Robb is starting to see the hard work and discipline pay off.
The Ravens were 6-5-1 overall and 1-4-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, but have gone 1-0-1 in its last two divisional games.
“They are coming together fantastically. I couldn’t ask for any better,” he said. “They are playing really well, and I see improvements every game.”
On May 7, the Ravens beat Troy Athens 3-1. In their previous contest, they tied Lake Orion High 1-1.
Robb believes the victory against Athens is a steppingstone for more good things to come.
“We controlled 80 percent of that game. The midfield did really well; we had good opportunities. (Athens) had some good chances, but my goalie was outstanding,” Robb remembered. “It was a combination of things, and it’s all starting to gel and come together.”
The Ravens have been close all season and haven’t lost a game by more than two goals.
Last season, Royal Oak was co-champs with Berkley High of the OAA White. Both programs made the move to the Red, and Robb said he believes the slow start was an adjustment to the Red style of play.
“We’re moving the ball well. We’re distributing the ball under control. In our first game in the Red, the speed is so much faster, and we played like we didn’t want to make a mistake,” he said. “So now, everyone is taking their own responsibility with the ball, playing good as a team and in a team concept.
“Now, their confidence is getting better and better.”
Robb carries 20 players on his roster, which he noted is more than he usually carries, and 11 of the players are seniors, including Kathleen Watson.
“We’re all really good friends and have played together for a really long time, so we know how each other works,” she said of her teammates. “I think we’re definitely starting to pick things up. I think we’re finally getting it.”
Robb said with so many seniors and knowing that they won’t be with the team next season, he carried a larger roster to help the transition.
“(The seniors) know what’s expected and are a great asset to have, but we’ll be losing them next year, so it’s also about getting the underclassmen some time and having them working with the seniors,” the coach said.
Ultimately, the Ravens are eying a Division 1 district championship. The tournament begins May 28.
“That’s what every team strives for,” Robb said. “The prize is districts. We knew we weren’t going to win the league, so we’re all about developing and getting prepared for districts. That’s where we are right now.”
“That would be such a big deal,” Watson added about winning a district title. “Who wouldn’t want to win districts as a senior?”