West Bloomfield soccer team refocuses on every game as season winds down

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 5, 2012

 West Bloomfield’s Nick Asker moves the ball in front of a North Farmington player during a 1-0 loss Oct. 2. The Lakers were still in contention for an OAA Blue crown at press time.

West Bloomfield’s Nick Asker moves the ball in front of a North Farmington player during a 1-0 loss Oct. 2. The Lakers were still in contention for an OAA Blue crown at press time.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Looking too far ahead turned out to be their ultimate demise.

Focusing solely on the grand prize instead of the baby steps along the way led to an offseason of regrets, and players on the West Bloomfield High soccer team vowed not to make the same mistake twice.

So far, so good.

It was less than a year ago when the Lakers entered the final day of the regular season with the chance to claim the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division crown.

Eighty minutes of soccer gave way to one of the biggest upsets of the season, and as Pontiac High celebrated a win, West Bloomfield was left dazed, confused and without league title.

“We learned a lot from that,” junior midfielder Ben Vorce said prior to an Oct. 2 home game against North Farmington.

“This year, we haven’t looked ahead to winning the division, per say,” said senior Nick Asker. “Yes, that’s what we want to do and what we feel like we should do, but it’s the individual games along the way where our focus must stay.”

While that night, and that game, certainly didn’t go West Bloomfield’s way — the Lakers gave up an early goal and lost 1-0 — the season as a whole represents exactly what Asker and Vorce were speaking of.

At press time, the Lakers were 11-5-1 overall and 8-1-0 in the Blue, two points ahead of Oxford High in the standings.

Games played after press time may have influenced which team has a handle on the division crown, but either way, the Lakers have approached 2012 with a new attitude, and it’s one Jason Clark credits much of the success to.

“The guys are just playing simple, basic soccer,” he said. “There’s no selfishness, and it’s not really flashy, but we’re playing as a team and things are clicking.”

Asked about the standings in the Blue and the final two weeks of the regular season, Clark kept things in perspective.

“We’re not overly excited, because we know the work that goes into this,” he added. “We’re coming to a job, trying to get the job done, and then we go home and try to be better the next day. We have a lot to play for, and we’re not looking too far in advance right now. It’s one game at a time. We feel like we have unfinished business from last year, so that’s where our focus is.”

Asker said it was essential for the team to finally get the Blue title, and even though he won’t be there next year, he wants to see the Lakers move to the White Division in 2013.

“We feel like this is a program on the rise, so taking that step would be huge,” Asker said.

But peeking down the road just a bit and looking beyond the division title, the Lakers are also in a new position this year when it comes to the Division 1 postseason.

For the first time in as long as anyone could remember, the Lakers are hosting a district tournament.

“You have to be excited about that,” Clark said. “It’s a great opportunity for these guys. We don’t have to go to Troy or Novi, or anywhere else. It’s a little bit of home field we get to enjoy.”

“Being able to host is huge,” Asker said of the district, which includes Walled Lake Northern, Walled Lake Central, White Lake Lakeland, Waterford Mott and Waterford Kettering. “It’ll be our chance to really show off, to show what type of team and program this is outside of the division. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

That is, not before the other challenges have been accomplished first.