Walled Lake Central defeats Troy in a shootout to reach first state final
Troy - Brian Ostapenko made the clutch saves when called upon on Wednesday.
The Walled Lake Central junior made seven saves over 100 minutes of play, then saved one shot in a shootout, as the 15th-ranked Vikings turned back host Troy, 1-0, in a Division 1 semifinal at Troy High.
Central will play in its first state final on Saturday at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek against No. 5-ranked Detroit Catholic Central at noon.
C.C., which will also make its first final appearance, defeated defending state champion East Kentwood, 2-1, in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
“(This is) truly an amazing night,” said Ostapenko, who noted that he relishes the opportunity to play in shootouts. He stopped three PKS in a 2-1 regional semifinal shootout win last week against No. 10 Rochester. “The whole team came out and performed. We didn't want it to be the last game of the season, so we came out and battled and got the result we wanted.”
Central entered the top 20 the week of the tournament and has now defeated four teams that spent at least one week in the rankings.
The Vikings have outscored the opposition 83-6 this season.
Central outscored Troy, 4-3, in the shootout with Dino Iovtchev calmly making the fifth shot to clinch the win.
Troy outshot the Vikings, 11-10, including 6-4 with shots on frame, and held a 7-2 edge on corner kicks. But the Colts could not solve Ostapenko.
It was Central’s first appearance in a state semifinal. The Vikings reached a regional final in 2014. Troy was making its fifth appearance in a state semifinal.
The Colts were ranked during the regular season but dropped out at the start of the tournament. And they had the better of the play.
“I told the boys that we had to score a goal in regulation,” said Troy coach Jimmy Stachura. “We did not want this to go to a shootout and that’s what we did. They took Rochester to a shootout last week and beat them. Anything can happen in a shootout.
“I thought we actually destroyed everything they wanted to do, frustrated them to the point where they were kicking our guys when the play was over. But we didn’t get it done in regulation. Credit their goalie for stepping up.”
Troy had a goal in the 78th minute called back due to a foul. The Colts (15-7-3) outshot the Vikings 6-1 over the two 10-minute overtime periods, including 3-0 with shots on frame during that stretch.
Ostapenko stopped Troy’s Darius Feier twice in overtime and even turned aside a blast from Ken Dowling in the second overtime.
“Obviously you need a little luck to make a run,” said veteran Central coach Joel Sharpe, who is in his 21st season with the Vikings. “We’ve beat some great teams in our run and now we’re in the state finals. We don’t know much about C.C. We just always take it one game at a time and now we’ll get our chance.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our defense. From our forwards right down to our goalie, we’ve always played great defense. We’ve only given up six goals all year. You can’t do that without playing great defense.”