Berkley High’s TJ Withrow prepares for a kick during a game against Ferndale High Aug. 29. The Bears would like to win the program’s first district championship since 2005.

Berkley High’s TJ Withrow prepares for a kick during a game against Ferndale High Aug. 29. The Bears would like to win the program’s first district championship since 2005.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Berkley High boys soccer wants to come away as district champs this year

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published September 4, 2018


This is Steve Wloszek’s ninth season as Berkley High’s boys soccer coach.

During his tenure, Berkley has won an Oakland Activities Association White Division championship; moved up to the OAA Red, which is the highest division in the association; and had major growth in the program.

According to Wloszek, in his first year with the program, the Bears only had 38 kids try out for two teams, as opposed to 62 who tried out for three teams this year.

But for all of those accomplishments there has been something missing — a district championship.

The Bears have made it as far as a Division 1 district title game in three of the last four years, losing by just one goal in each of those contests, including a 1-0 loss to Troy High last year.

Wloszek would like this to be the year of breakthrough for Berkley.

“We’ve been so close for so many years,” Wloszek said. “We just haven’t been able to make it happen. This will just give the seniors something to really celebrate as a great achievement for their senior year.”

Wloszek isn’t the only one who would like to make this a special season for Berkley soccer.

Along with Lucas Schodowski, Jason Bormann is a team captain.

Bormann would like for his final season playing for the Bears to include a district championship.

“It’s really what drives our team,” he said. “We’re really working hard for a district title (because) we’ve come so close these last couple years. … Our senior class, we are very motivated by the idea of winning (a) title.”

From Schodowski’s perspective, anything less than a district title is not a successful season for Berkley.

“(To) finally get over that hump and win our district would be a very big accomplishment,” Schodowski said. “And I feel like if we don’t win a district title then we wouldn’t have improved from last year. So, in order to be a success, we need to win that district final.”

Wloszek said Berkley has a “very big senior class,” with 12 on the roster this year. He has observed teams with a lot of seniors make long runs in past district tournaments, and he wants his squad to have a similar mentality when the postseason comes around this year.

“They fight every minute of the game,” Wloszek said. “So, I’m hoping this year we have that same mentality, where seniors go out and they don’t want their year to be over. They (want to) buy themselves one more game, one more practice.”

Playing in the OAA Red can go a long way toward preparing the Bears for postseason play.

“We’re the only Berkley sport that plays in the OAA Red,” Wloszek said. “I (want to) make sure we compete for the OAA Red title and make sure we don’t get relegated. … I would venture to say the Red is the hardest league in the entire state. … So, it’s very, very tough competition, and the benefit to that is your league games are extremely difficult, and no team that you play in the state tournament is (going to) shock you with their talent.”

For as tough as the OAA Red is, the growth that Berkley has had since Wloszek’s first season leading the program can help put the Bears in a strong position to compete against their division counterparts.

“The program’s gotten bigger, the talent level’s gotten better, and this is by far the deepest team I have,” he said. “It’s the first year I haven’t taken a freshman on varsity at Berkley in nine seasons. … I would just say the talent level from top to bottom is as good as it’s ever been.”

All of that could help make for an exciting season for Berkley soccer.

“Every year, I get excited going into the fall,” Wloszek said. “This year, I think I was a little more excited than some years past because we had 16 returning varsity players from last year’s team and we had a really solid year last year. So, the talent level’s there. Now it’s (a) matter of making sure we mold as a team and achieve the goals that we (want to) achieve.”