By Teddy Rydquist
Review Contributing Sportswriter
Improving to 5-3 on the season with a victory over the rival Oxford Wildcats on Thursday, the Lake Orion Dragons boys’ soccer team has already matched their win total from last season.
“One of our goals is to have a winning season,” second-year head coach Chris Corteg said.
“We want to do well in our league, and then we’ll see how it plays out in districts.”
Possessing a diverse roster, the Dragons have received contributions from a few different classes this season. Seniors Jared Currie, Neethan Punniyamoorthy and Lion Zoernack have provided valuable veteran leadership for the two sophomores and two freshmen on the team to learn from.
“Our team chemistry is really strong,” Corteg said.
“Rodrigo (Gaytan), a junior, has been huge for us on the back-end, along with Jared Currie. The Punniyamoorthy brothers, Neethan and sophomore Keethan, have, too. Lion was able to score against West Bloomfield and Rochester Adams.”
Defeating West Bloomfield by a score of 1-0 on Aug. 27 and narrowly edging Adams, 2-1, two days later, both of Zoernack’s goals in these games had a direct effect on the outcome.
Gaytan, a rock-solid defenseman, was clearly the team’s vocal leader in their win over Oxford. In what was a very back-and-forth game, the younger Punniyamoorthy got the Dragons on the board first, slightly more than 12 minutes into the game.
It appeared as if Lake Orion was going to take their 1-0 lead into halftime, but Oxford junior Marco Artero tied the game on a free kick with just 22.5 seconds left in the half. Benefitting from some good fortune, the Dragons were able to retake the lead early in the second half.
With 36:50 left in the action, Lake Orion junior Michael Boger lofted a shot on Oxford goaltender, junior Tristan Bennett, from about 30-yards out. An All-OAA selection as a sophomore a season ago, Bennett is as steady as they come in net in Oakland County.
Surprisingly, the ball slipped through his hands and the Dragons took a 2-1 lead. The Wildcats had some opportunities late, but Boger’s goal held up and gave Corteg and the Dragons a vital OAA White victory.
“Great win tonight. Bloomfield Hills and Seaholm will be tough in our division, but we’re off to a good start,” Corteg said.
Hitting the road to take on the Avondale Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, September 10, the Dragons have a prime opportunity to move to 3-0 in league play. Just 1-6 overall, Avondale is 0-2 in the OAA White.
The Dragons program last won double-digit games in the 2016-17 academic year. Having molded the team in his image since taking over at the helm, this is looking like the year that Corteg’s efforts pay off and Lake Orion gets back to their winning ways.