Detroit Catholic Central tops Northville in shootout to advance to District Final
Farmington Hills – In almost any postseason, there tends to be a game or two where two teams will meet far sooner than they should and one of the top teams in the state is forced to go home early in the tournament.
And that turned out to be the case once again when No. 1 Northville faced No. 5 Detroit Catholic Central in Wednesday’s boys soccer district semifinal at North Farmington.
After regulation and overtime ended with the score tied at 1-1, the match went to a shootout and it was goals from Catholic Central’s Connor Gaskin and Farzad Baghaie, as well as a save by Gaskin, proved to be the difference as the Shamrocks won the shootout 4-2, to pick up a 2-1 win over the top ranked Mustangs.
Catholic Central coach Gene Pulice said that while he was confident in his shooters and his keeper, Wednesday’s shootout wasn’t something he was excited for.
“I dreaded it,” he said. “I know that we’re really solid and it’s something that we work on and we’ve had our five in place for a long time. We know that our anchor is going to be Farzad Baghaie, we had a last minute guy that we had to bring in, Justin Murray, one of our captain center backs got injured, so we had to scratch him and move Connor up.”
Catholic Central now advances to the District final, where it will face the winner of the Walled Lake Western-Walled Lake Central game, played later in the night on Wednesday.
After Catholic Central’s Matt Turton and Ryan Pierson and Northville’s Matthew Mitchell and Nick Toupin each scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, both teams would struggle to find the back of the net in the following two rounds.
The next shooter for each team would miss the next shot, and Gaskin would score in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Shamrocks a 3-2 lead.
But perhaps the biggest play Gaskin would make is a diving save to his left to keep the Shamrocks out in front in the shootout and the next shooter for the Shamrocks, Baghaie would seal the win as he would send a shot into the left side of the net to send Catholic Central into the district final.
“It’s a tough way to lose any game,” said Northville coach Henry Klimes. “I thought we were the better team possessing and we had the better opportunities in both overtimes, but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll give credit to CC, they kept working hard and they got the breaks and they made a couple of plays in PKs.”
Northville struck first in the first half when Toupin buried a shot in the upper left corner from the right sideline to put the Mustangs on top, 1-0 with 22:41 left before halftime.
Just 41 seconds later, Northville nearly pushed its lead to 2-0 when Troy Borawski dribbled through a pair of Catholic Central defenders and sent a shot just wide of the net and went out of bounds.
The Shamrocks answered the Northville goal with 21:18 left to play in the first half when senior Justin Murray sent a free kick from near midfield that cleared a hanful of both players at the top of the box and bounced over the Northville keeper to knot the game at 1-1.
Pulice said that it was key for his team to respond as quickly as it did, and also added that the quick Northville start to the game served as a bit of a wakeup call for his team early on.
“Northville came out on fire and we started a bit slow,” he said. “But then I think we had an early wakeup call on a goal where we just weren’t matched up across the field with. Our goalkeeper, I feel is still the top goalkeeper in our region, Peter Kirouac, and in the game, you know this, the most important parts of the game are the first five minutes, the next five minutes after a goal scored, the last five minutes going into halftime and the first five minutes coming out and our guys were prepared.”
Late in the second overtime, Northville nearly found the back of the net with under a minute left to play, including a shot that went off the crossbar with just 28 seconds remaining.