BOYS SOCCER: Lake Orion upsets Clarkston; Grand Blanc edges Oxford
BY DAN STICKRADT
OXFORD — Revenge can be sweet. It can be even better in the postseason.
Lake Orion enjoyed the sweet taste of revenge Thursday in its Division 1 district semifinal at Oxford.
After losing to arch-rival Clarkston 3-1 only two weeks ago, the unheralded Dragons continued their comeback trail with a 2-1 upset of the Wolves.
Lake Orion, which opened the season with an uninspiring 0-6-0 record, moved to 10-9-3 overall and will play Grand Blanc (12-6-2) for the district championship Saturday at 10 a.m, also at Oxford.
Rusty Reichenbach scored on a penalty kick with 14 minutes left after being ripped down in the penalty box to give the Dragons their sole lead of the game. His heroics proved to be the game-winner.
“That play gave us a chance and Rusty buried it,” said Lake Orion coach Curtis Payment. “We had some chances and so did Clarkston. We were able to score two big goals in the second half and that was the difference.
“It’s always great to beat a team that beat you a couple of weeks ago,” continued Payment. “We seem to be peaking at the right time. It took a while for this team to get going. We had to make some changes and get out some of the old demons. But we are really starting to play the way I had envisioned.”
Lake Orion tied the in the 62nd minute, when Reichenbach fed Allen Karrip on a through pass and Karrip finished off the play on a breakaway with 18:40 left.
That helped shift the momentum in the Dragons’ favor.
Clarkston applied plenty of pressure on the Lake Orion defense down the stretch and even hit the crossbar off the foot of Joey Definis in the 73rd minute. The Wolves (14-7-0) could not net the equalizer.
Lake Orion senior Greg Thelen made 11 saves for the Dragons, including a pair of key stops inside the final five minutes to finish off the upset of Clarkston, which finished tied for third in the OAA Red Division.
“We started off slow, but Greg has played 21 games in goal for us and he has come a long ways this season,” praised Payment, a former All-State goalkeeper and Michigan State goalie. “He came through with some big saves for us when we needed him to.”
Clarkston (14-7-0) scored first in the 42nd minute, when Brad Shultz converted from close range off a Ben Snider pass. The Wolves could not keep the momentum going.
“I thought we controlled play for stretches of the game and when we took the lead in thought that would give us some momentum,” offered Clarkston coach Chuck Longhorn. “We had some nice chances down the stretch. We hit the crossbar and had a couple of others just miss. If we could have snuck in another one, then who knows what might have happened. You have to give Lake Orion credit.”
GRAND BLANC 1, OXFORD 0: Grand Blanc scored midway through the first half and made the Bobcats defense made it stand and in this 1-0 district semifinal victory over the host Wildcats.
Dominic Mastromatteo scored the goal for the Bobcats. Lewis Jones made four saves for Grand Blanc (12-6-2) to record the shutout.
Connor Bandel collected nine saves for Oxford (9-7-3).
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)