By: Daniel Stickradt
BOYS SOCCER: OAA teams engage in battle for conference crowns
Avondale captures OAA-White crown; Rochester schools join Athens in race for OAA-Red crown
BY DAN STICKRADT
AUBURN HILLS — Five years ago, Auburn Hills Avondale made an improbable run to its first boys soccer Division 2 state title.
With a senior-heavy team ranked in the top 10 in D-2 this season, coach Doug Steinard hopes that the Yellowjackets can find the same magic as 2011.
“I wasn’t the coach in 2011. I was an assistant at Rochester. But I know they had a very good group of seniors like we do now,” said Steinard. “We have 10 seniors on this team, so we’ve been able to use that to our advantage. I knew we would be good this season, but I think we’ve played better than what I originally anticipated.”
Avondale carried a 12-1-2 record coming into the first week of October, the only loss coming against fellow D-2 top-10 state-ranked school Coldwater at a tournament in August.
“They were a very good team. We played them in the finals of a tournament and it was our third game of the day and we were down to 11 players due to injuries,” said Steinard of the loss. “We’ve played really well since then — and we’ve played a bunch of state-ranked schools.”
The Yellowjackets have already clinched the OAA White Division conference title outright with a 5-0-1 record with one league game remaining. Avondale has eight shutouts and has climbed up to No. 3 in the rankings behind Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern and East Lansing.
Junior Jake DeBoer leads Avondale with 12 goals, while senior Griffin Kubert has added 10 goals and freshman Leo Castro has scored seven goals.
Senior defensemen Owen Killewald anchors the backfield and has contributed five goals and 12 assists. Seniors Eric Gaytan and Roman Chrononowski have aided the defense, while senior Adam Mansfield has become a study backstop as a goalkeeper allowing less than a goal a game.
Sophomore midfielder Nick Kubert has also emerged as a playmaker with four goals and five assists.
“We have been playing very well as a team with some very good chemistry and not a lot of super stars. We haven’t given up many goals all season, which I think is why we are ranked so high,” said Steinard. “I’m hoping we can continue to play the same way in our district and hopefully make a run. It won’t be easy, but if we can continue to play the way we have been this season, anything is possible.”
ROCHESTER SCHOOLS SHINE
Rochester, Rochester Adams and Rochester Stoney Creek are all ranked in the top 20 simultaneously for the first time since the U.S. Soccer Academy started pulling players from the high school scene five years ago.
In the current Division 1 top-20, Adams is ranked seventh, Stoney Creek 13th and Rochester 20th as of the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Oct. 3 rankings.
Adams, which shared the league title last season with Clarkston and currently is 10-5-2 overall, sits atop of the OAA-Red Division standings with a 4-2-0 record and 12 points with an important clash coming up Oct. 12 against Troy Athens.
Athens, ranked eighth, is tied in second place with Stoney Creek at 3-1-2 and 11 points. Stoney Creek (11-3-3 overall) has one more league game against 19th-ranked Clarkston and is mathematically still in the hunt for a league title.
Rochester (9-3-3 overall) finished 3-2-2 with 11 points in league play and can finish no higher than second and no lower than fourth in the final standings.
All three Rochester schools are in the same district, along with Clarkston, Oxford, Lake Orion, Waterford Mott and Waterford Kettering. The state tournament begins Oct. 18.