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Utica

September 18, 2013

Utica soccer soaring early in 2013

Chieftains bouncing back after rough 2012 season

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Utica’s Kyle Watters prepares for a kick in a game on Sept. 9 against Sterling Heights Stevenson.

UTICA — Sometimes you have to fall down a few times before you learn how to walk. That was the story last season for Utica High’s soccer team, as it struggled in its first season in the MAC Red.

This year has been far different for the Chieftains. Utica has rolled to an 8-1-1 overall start, as MAC Red play is set to begin its second week of play. 

Those eight wins, two more than what the Chieftains had in all of 2012, are indicative of the quick turnaround Utica has made in 2013. After playing in the MAC White Division and winning divisional titles in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011, Utica was rudely welcomed into the MAC Red in 2012, winning just one game in league play.

Early in 2013, the Chieftains appear to have learned from last year’s defeats and are better prepared for league play. Despite a 2-1 loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson Sept. 9, in which Utica led at halftime, Utica coach Carl Territo said he was pleased with his team’s execution against the Titans.

“We like to hold it a little bit and get our guys in the right spots, and then deliver and then press. It worked really well; we had some good opportunities,” Territo said.

Although Stevenson was able to exploit Utica’s strategy after halftime to rally past the Chieftains, Territo remained confident that his style will suit his players well as the season moves forward.

“We have a style for the people we have, and we’re trying to swing it around and involve people in the back and float an extra guy in so we can come in, and it worked. It was doing well,” Territo said. “We just have to limit some of our unforced errors. We get it in without any pressure and we give it away right away; then you’re not going to be successful if you do that long-term.”

Looking ahead to league play for Utica, Territo said that being able to persevere through tough moments will be crucial to Utica’s success.

“I really want them to deal with adversity, so when they score against us, do you see if guys put their heads down, and I had a couple guys do that — but I tried to change that quickly,” Territo said. “So that’s been a difference; we’re trying to work on that. It’s an 80-minute game, so things happen and you have to keep on playing through.”

“I think last year’s experience — when we only won one game and got a tie early — opened these guys’ eyes that every game is going to be like the one that was tonight. It’s a battle; it’s hard; it’s chippy. But it’s who wants it more, in the end. So I think what I like this year is that our guys are persevering through some of that.”

Utica had its Sept. 11 game against Anchor Bay canceled due to severe weather, but the Chieftains defeated Lakeview 2-0 on Sept. 12. They will continue their MAC Red schedule on Sept. 18 when they host Utica Eisenhower.

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