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Sterling Heights

Utica Stevenson soccer chasing MAC Red title

October 3, 2012

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The Titans have finished in the top half of the MAC Red eight of the last 10 years and are on pace to do it again. Pictured is Utica Stevenson junior forward Neil Martorana in a game against Chippewa Valley.

Prior to the Oct. 1 schedule of games, the Utica Stevenson boys soccer team sat one game behind Utica Eisenhower in the race for the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title.

Stevenson hasn’t won a MAC Red Division title since 2002, so it would a great accomplishment for the program.

“That’d be really big for us,” senior midfielder Spencer Steinwascher said. “That’d be great for us to accomplish as a team because it’s something we all really want.”

The Titans have been remarkably consistent even without winning a division title, finishing in the top three of the MAC Red eight of the past 10 years and even battled their way to the state final in 2010.

“There’s been times when we’ve been close to the roses, but we just couldn’t finish,” Stevenson coach Bob Mondoux said.

The Titans, who were 9-2-1, 4-2-1 MAC Red at press time, want to experience the feeling of hoisting a trophy.

“I was called up from JV the year we went to the state finals,” senior Kacper Biernacki said, “and getting to that point was an experience that only made us all want to win even more. Winning a division title would give us that feeling.”

Mondoux said the team is dealing with some injuries right now, keeping Stevenson from being at full strength during the stretch run. He added that the long season has affected the group at times, even though its performed well.

“At times, they’re brilliant,” said Mondoux, who’s coached the Titans since 1993. “But the key is keeping them up for a whole season.

“They’re excited at the start, but there comes a point where they hit a lull because it’s a long season. … They just need to keep the intensity up.”

Mondoux said Steinwascher does a good job of trying to keep that intensity up. He added Stevenson junior forward Neil Martorana, currently nursing an injury, is a leader, as well.

“I just try to help everybody keep their heads up,” Steinwascher said. “The year we got to the state finals, we lost to a team twice, but we didn’t put our heads down. We just kept playing and started winning.”

The longtime Titans coach takes an interesting approach with his team. He said he strongly considers any input any player has and acknowledges that the guys on the field sometimes know more than the guy walking the sidelines.

“When it’s just the coach talking, it gets to be like being a parent, when your kids are only listening to you half of the time, anyway,” Mondoux said. “They know what’s going on because they’re out there playing. It’s more than for physical reasons. It helps them keep their mind sharp while they’re playing, too.”

Stevenson senior defenseman Evan Imms believes the team’s hard work and approach could pay off.

“We’ve got a lot of good players. We just need to keep working hard,” Imms said. “I think we can win the division and make a deep playoff run.”

The Titans next match is a rivalry battle with Utica Ford II, slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at Runkel Field.

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