Lake Orion comes from behind to defeat Oxford on the pitch

Lake Orion comes from behind to defeat Oxford on the pitch

Dragons earn first-round district bye


By Jim Newell
Review Editor

The Lake Orion High School girls varsity soccer team played a resilient game against Oxford on Thursday, coming from behind late in the game to earn a 2-1 victory over the Wildcats.

Lake Orion’s Brooke Blackstock had a strong game on the Dragon defense. Photos by Jim Newell.

The win also secured the Dragons a first-round bye in district play, which Lake Orion hosts this year.

“I think we were finally able to step up and play how I know we can play. The past couple of weeks we’ve been struggling a little bit – it’s been a little bit mental,” said coach Amanda Hutchinson after the win against Oxford. “And I think today we were finally able to break through and play how we are supposed to play. I think it was really a team effort tonight.”

Oxford is 12-2-1 overall after the loss to Lake Orion and has easily won the OAA White this year.

Last year, Lake Orion finished with an impressive 15-5-2 record in the OAA White division, a district title and made it to the MHSAA Division 1 Regional Final, losing to Hartland.

For their success, the Dragons were moved up to the top-tier OAA Red division this year and have consistently faced tough competition all season, going 0-6 in the OAA Red and 7-7-3 overall.

That increased competition likely helped against a Wildcat team that never let up and played a physical game throughout.

Lake Orion’s Audrey Llewellyn battles with Oxford’s Ava Kettler for possession of the ball. Photo by Jim Newell.

Oxford senior Ava Kettler got a yellow card after an intentional handball in the penalty box off a Dragon corner kick, but Lake Orion failed to convert the penalty shot with 8:25 left in the first half.

Lake Orion goalie Kylie Kopitzki came up with a big save a minute-and-a-half later to keep the game scoreless. That save was negated a minute after that when the Dragons committed a foul in their own penalty box giving Oxford a penalty shot.

Oxford converted and took the 1-0 lead into halftime.

In the second half, play raged back and forth and the physical play resulted in penalties on both teams, including a yellow card for Lake Orion’s Whitney Acker and Kettler, her second. Kettler got a red card and left the game with less than a minute to play.

Lake Orion’s AnnMarie Fosmoen had a chance to score five minutes into the second half but the Oxford goalie Jenna Hickey made a great save and the defense was able to clear the ball.

Fosmoen had another opportunity with 31:20 left in the game when she beat an Oxford defender and had a two-step breakaway on the goal. Hickey charged and Fosmoen put the ball just wide of the net.

Nearly six minutes later, Fosmoen took a corner kick and connected with senior Madilyn Smith, who put the ball in the back of the Oxford goal, tying the game 1-1.

Oxford pressed hard after that and Lake Orion faced three straight Wildcat corner kicks – quality scoring chances – but the Dragon defense held.

With 5:12 left in the game, the Dragon sent a ball up field to freshman forward Mackenzie Tabish who headed the ball over an Oxford defender, ran past the defense and then toed the ball past the goalie giving the Dragons a 2-1 lead and the win.

“It wasn’t beautiful, but at this point we will take anything we can get,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has said the team knew it would play tougher opponents in the Red, probably not have as good a record as last year, but would strive to improve each game and look to make a run in the playoffs.

With that superior level of competition throughout the season to help prepare them, the Dragons seem to be piquing at the right time.
“I think our defense has been pretty solid all season. We’ve just had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net,” Hutchinson said. Before the win over Oxford, Lake Orion had lost three straight games by one or two goals. “We’ve been in every game and in a couple of them just one call or another could have changed the game in favor.”

Now, with district play coming up at the end of the month, the Dragons seem poised to win their final two regular season games against weaker opponents and possibly finish the regular season at 9-7-3.

Lake Orion took on Birmingham Groves (3-3-1 OAA White, 8-6-2 overall) on Tuesday after Review press time. The Dragons finish out the regular season against West Bloomfield (0-7 OAA White, 1-13 overall) at 7 p.m. tonight at Lake Orion High School.

Lake Orion is in the MHSAA Division 1 District 5 playoffs and will play in the district semifinal at 7 p.m. May 31 at Lake Orion High School against the winner of the Flushing (12-4-1) – Lapeer (5-6-2) game.

If the Dragons win that game, they would play in the district final at 7 p.m. June 2 at Lake Orion High School and could play Grand Blanc (12-3-2), who the Dragons beat in last year’s district final, or have a rematch against Oxford (12-2-1). Davison (12-3-1) and Clarkston (9-4-1) are also in District 5.

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