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October 30, 2013

Utica’s dramatic postseason run ends in regional final

Chieftains fall to Bloomfield Hills

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Utica players celebrate Matt Wilkie’s goal against Bloomfield Hills Oct. 25.

GROSSE POINTE — A postseason push for Utica that included a victory over Troy Athens, the top-ranked team in Michigan, ran out of gas in the regional final round as the Chieftains lost 2-1 to Bloomfield Hills on Oct. 25.

With less than five minutes left in the contest, Conor Wahl was able to deflect a loose ball in the box after a corner kick to score the game for Bloomfield, a first-year school that is made up of students from what were formerly Andover and Lahser high schools.

The two sides exchanged goals late in the first half to set up the dramatic ending.

Bloomfield’s Kyle Petrovich opened the scoring with 6:27 remaining in the first half. Utica’s Matt Wilkie responded immediately by scoring on a rebound with 5:19 left before intermission.

“It’s fantastic. They seem to be getting stronger and stronger, not just on the field but off the field,” Bloomfield coach Dougie MacAulay said. “The dream is coming a little bit closer.”

Utica coach Carl Territo thought his side controlled portions of the contest with Bloomfield but made a couple of mistakes in its own end that led to Bloomfield’s goals.

“We didn’t clear those chances, and when you don’t do that, they score, and that happened,” Territo said. “I think we played well; there were times when we outplayed them and had them on their back foot a lot.”

Bloomfield moved on to play Traverse City West in a state semifinal game in Midland Oct. 29, after press time. MacAulay expressed his team’s excitement to continue in the playoffs.

“At the start of every season, you set goals, and at this would’ve been a high goal. To win the district was great, and to win the region is fantastic. To get a shot at the top four remaining teams in Michigan is going to be fantastic. We’re just delighted — to be going to the final four in our first year is a dream story of us.”

Utica ended the season with a 17-6-3 record, which is a dramatic improvement from the 2012 season in which Utica won one contest in the MAC Red Division.

“We’ve said from the beginning that we believe in these guys and this team. At this point, we only lost to four teams all season: Bloomfield, Eisenhower, Stevenson and Rochester. With only having the six losses, we proved that we can play, and these guys did a good job. We’re proud of them.”

To get to the regional final, Utica had its signature victory of the season by beating Troy Athens 3-2 in overtime. Athens was 20-0 going into the district final against Utica. In the regional semifinal round, Utica controlled play against Macomb Dakota and defeated the Cougars 1-0.

Utica graduations 11 seniors in Fadi Manuel, Ryan Butterworth, Kyle Watters, Ivan Sanchez, Michael Bailey, Noah Brenizer, Giovanni Braun, Austin Perry, Paul Conway, Tonin Perkaj and Andy Shamoon.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.