U-D Jesuit bests De La Salle in CHSL A-B soccer title game

Cubs win shootout to claim first CHSL title since 2000

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published October 9, 2013

 De La Salle sophomore forward Aleks Vushaj (17) celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in the Pilots' 3-2 shootout loss to U of D Jesuit in the Catholic League final.

De La Salle sophomore forward Aleks Vushaj (17) celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in the Pilots' 3-2 shootout loss to U of D Jesuit in the Catholic League final.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

PONTIAC — University of Detroit Jesuit Academy senior Drew Rozman was a member of the team that last time it qualified for a Catholic High School League championship game.

A freshman at the time, Rozman said suffering a loss to Birmingham Brother Rice was tough for him and his teammates.

Rozman and his teammates got a measure of redemption, as the Cubs outlasted Warren De La Salle 3-2 in a 2013 CHSL A-B championship game, played Oct. 9 at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

"It feels great. There's nothing better than this," Rozman said. "We're feeling good right now. I don't really have any words for this."

The match had a thrilling finish. No goals had been scored the first 70 minutes of action. The two squads, which split two regular-season meetings, notched four goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation to go into extra time knotted at two.

No champion was crowned after two, 10-minute extra sessions, either, meaning the matchup would be decided in a shootout. U-D Jesuit (13-7-2, 3-2-1 CHSL Central Division) bested the Pilots (13-6-3, 2-2-2 CHSL Central Division) 6-5 in the shootout. The Cubs scored on six of seven shots in the shootout. De La Salle scored five times in seven tries.

U-D junior Joe Nittman’s score proved to be the winner.

“We’re getting on a roll putting the ball in the net. I couldn’t have picked better guys for the (shootout),” U-D Jesuit coach Kevin Tuite said following his team’s win.

The win gave U-D Jesuit its first CHSL championship since 2000. The Pilots were looking for their ninth CHSL A-B title since 2002 and 17th since 1985.

“I’m extremely excited. We’ve been here a couple times since 2000, but this is our first win. I’m extremely happy because I’ve had the chance to see us get into battles like this and sometimes come out on the short end of the stick,” Tuite said.

“We’ve come out on the bad end on one of those odd goals or mistakes. The thing that made it unique for these boys was they took the entire package, which is something we talked about — they won the regular-season division championship and they capped it off with the icing on the cake, which is taking care of the (A-B) title.”

One of those odd goals helped U-D Jesuit force overtime. Down 2-1 with 3:41 remaining in regulation, U-D senior Matt Cunningham scored on a corner kick from the right side of the net to tie the match at two. No other Cubs player touched the ball on the score.

“Instead of laying down and losing composure, we stayed focus, and (Cunningham) probably scored the greatest goal of his life,” Tuite said. “We were teasing him about that one. It was perfect.”

De La Salle coach Reid Friedrichs said he hadn’t seen a goal like Cunningham’s in a long time.

Friedrichs said his team had an up-and-down season leading into the CHSL A-B final. The Pilots’ coach said his players showed something in defeat.

“We came together tonight really nicely,” Friedrichs said. “We played hard and played well tonight. I was proud of the effort. They scored first, and the game got going in the last 10 minutes with three corner kicks being scored in the last eight minutes. I’m just sad for the boys that they didn’t get the result they wanted.”

Friedrichs said a match like the CHSL A-B final would prepare the Pilots for the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs. He said playing in high-pressure situations happen frequently in the postseason and that the nail-biter should help De La Salle should it get into a similar situation this postseason.

U-D opened the scoring when junior Tim Doman dropped in a goal to make it 1-0 with 10:16 left in the second half. De La Salle sophomore forward Aleks Vushaj netted the next two scores at 6:21 and 5:58 remaining to put the Pilots up 2-1 before Cunningham's late goal tied the match.

The Pilots open the postseason with a Class A district quarterfinal against Grosse Pointe South, set for 4 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Macomb Community College South Campus in Warren.

U-D Jesuit begins district play with a matchup against Berkley, which takes place at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Berkley.

Players from this year’s U-D Jesuit team live in 17 communities: Allen Park, Novi, Taylor, Bloomfield, Northville, Royal Oak, Milford, Troy, the Grosse Pointes, Pleasant Ridge, Commerce Township, Farmington Hills, Eastpointe, and St. Clair Shores.

For more information on the MHSAA state boys soccer playoffs, check www.candgnews.com or www.mhsaa.com.