Birmingham Roeper advances to Division 4 semifinals with overtime win over Liggett
Allen Park – For the third time this season, the Birmingham Roeper-Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett boys soccer rivalry was renewed.
And for the second time this fall, overtime was required to decide a winner in the rubber match.
Facing the Knights for the second straight season in a Division 4 regional final, the Roughriders rallied to pull off a 3-1 victory in two overtimes Saturday at Allen Park Inter-City Baptist.
With the win, fourth-ranked Roeper (20-1) will now face Harbor Beach in a state semifinal on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Troy Athens. Harbor Beach earned a 2-0 win over Saginaw Valley Lutheran on Friday.
“It was frustrating how many opportunities we missed today. By my count, we missed about nine of 10 really good opportunities inside the box and one-on-one with the goalkeeper,” Roeper coach Ed Sack said. “It sort of deflates you when you miss out on so many opportunities, and then to go down by a goal was something for us to overcome.
“Any time that you can win a title with the type of players that we do is an awesome experience, though. I’m very happy for the kids and very happy that we played a good game.”
Despite falling behind in the fifth minute of the first overtime on a goal by Liggett’s Harrison Wujek, Roeper responded a minute later on an equalizer from Max Whipple. The senior forward then delivered the go-ahead score 30 seconds later on a controversial goal. The ball appeared to roll off Whipple’s arm inside the box, but was not overturned, allowing the Roughriders to carry a 2-1 lead into the final 10-minute overtime.
“It was a very tough, cruel way to decide the game on a controversial call, because we all saw it as a handball that rolled off of his arm. Why it wasn’t called, I don’t know,” Liggett coach David Backhurst said. “I thought we played them tough and it was anyone’s game. To have a non-call end your season is a difficult thing, though.”
In the second overtime, Jake Flynn found the back of the net for Roeper on a header with eight minutes remaining. The wind, which played a major factor Saturday, finally benefitted Roeper in overtime.
“We certainly did not want to go to a shootout, so I was having the guys play more aggressive in overtime. However, the wind did play a factor,” Sack said on his team’s approach in overtime.
“Our style is to try and play the best defense we can and to get combinations so we can get through. The wind certainly helped us though when we got it in overtime.”
The Roughriders had the task throughout much of the contest of solving Liggett freshman goalie Anthony George, who resembled a brick wall over the first 80 minutes.
“Anthony did a super job for us today and made some amazing saves,” Backhurst said. “We could have been down by three or four goals in the first half had it not been for him. Anthony kept us in the game today and did a tremendous job for us all season long.”
Despite entering overtime at a scoreless tie, both teams were presented with scoring opportunities over the initial 80 minutes. Liggett even appeared to have struck gold first in the 47th minute on an indirect kick by Christian deRuiter. However, the goal was disallowed after it was ruled that another Liggett player did not make contact with the ball.