The Lake Orion girls varsity soccer team won their second district title on Thursday after beating Oxford 1-0 at LOHS. Photos by Jim Newell.
PHOTO GALLERY AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE
By Jim Newell
It was what everyone expected when the Lake Orion and Oxford girls varsity soccer teams met – a pitched, physical, back-and-forth battle that came down to the final seconds of play.
When it was over, the Dragon’s defeated Oxford 1-0 and hoisted the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) District 5 championship trophy in celebration on Thursday at Lake Orion High School.
This is the Dragon’s second district title in as many years. Last year, the team beat Grand Blanc in overtime to capture the district championship.
Lake Orion (11-7-3) was scheduled to play in the MHSAA Regional Semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday against District 6 champion Bloomfield Hills (11-2-3), at Meadows Stadium in Novi after Review press time.
The Oxford Wildcat’s play in the OAA White division, the second division, and finished the season with a 14-5-2 overall record.
Lake Orion coach Amanda Hutchinson said she was proud of the girls and knew they would have a tough time against the Wildcats, winners of the OAA White.
“It feels great. I was expecting it to be a close game, a battle. We knew going in it was going to be a close game, a one-goal difference either way,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson credits the Dragons’ team-effort mentality for the win.
“I think our strength is the same it has been all season: different girls step up at different times. We’re not about one person,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson knew going into the season that the Dragons likely would not win as many games as last year. The Dragons moved up to the OAA Red, from the OAA White, this season and played much tougher competition.
“That was our goal, to stay healthy and focus on a playoff run,” she said.
Oxford kept the pressure on the Dragons throughout much of the first half with physical play in the midfield and defense and quick counterattacks on offense.
Wildcat senior forward Katlyn Peck got a yellow card with 12:36 left in the first for taking out a Lake Orion player from behind and not playing the ball.
For the rest of the half, Lake Orion survived several Oxford scoring opportunities, including a shot by Ava Kettlar that caught the Dragons off guard after a quick restart. Fortunately for the Dragons, Kettlar put the ball just wide of the net.
Lake Orion finally broke the 0-0 tie when senior forward Annamarie Fosmoen raced after a pass and crashed into the Oxford goalkeeper. The ball came loose and junior Audrey Llewellyn followed up the play, putting the ball in the back of the net and giving the Dragons the 1-0 lead.
That lone goal was all the Dragons needed to clinch the district title.
They survived several more Oxford scoring opportunities but Lake Orion’s defensive line of sophomore Brooke Blackstock, senior Megan Witt, junior Grace Sullivan and freshman netminder Kylie Kopitzki all had stellar games in keeping the ball out of the Dragon’s goal.
“We’re very defensive-minded and I think all season our defense has been strong. In all the games except one, it’s been a one or two goal differential and that’s because of our defense,” Hutchinson said.
Madilyn Smith and Ashley Cole also played well defensively and in midfield for the Dragons.
Whitney Acker, Audrey Llewellyn, Sarah Hoensheid and Erin Regalia played solid in midfield, pressing on the attack and providing the necessary defensive-midfield support.
Fosmoen, always a scoring threat, drew the Wildcat’s attention and contributed up top on the Dragon’s attack.
See www.lakeorionreview.com for a photo gallery of the Dragon’s district final.
The Dragons defeated the Flushing Raiders 2-0 in the district semifinal game on May 31 to move on to the title match.
Sophomore midfielder Erin Regalia scored the first and eventual game-winning goal for Lake Orion less than five minutes into the game against Flushing, giving the Dragons the 1-0 lead.
Throughout the rest of the first half and most of the second half, the Dragons and Raiders battled back and forth with both teams getting scoring opportunities but failing to convert.
Flushing put the pressure on the Dragons and kept the ball in the Lake Orion defensive half for much of the second half of play. The Dragon defense, anchored by sophomore Brooke Blackstock and senior Megan Witt, repelled several Raider counterattacks and corner kicks.
While Flushing could not put the ball in the back of the net, freshman forwards Dylan Verlinden and Mackenzie Tabish teamed up for the insurance goal for the Dragons with 9:52 left in the game.
Junior midfielder Whitney Acker started the scoring drive with gritty defense against a Raider player in the Flushing defensive third. Acker won the ball and slotted it through the Flushing defense to Tabish.
The Raider goalie charged and Tabish passed the ball to Verlinden, who put the ball in the back of the net.
Freshman goalkeeper Kylie Kopitzki played a solid game and got the shutout for the Dragons.