By: Dan Stickradt
BOYS SOCCER: Full-strength Stoney Creek dams up Lake Orion
BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — It’s no secret that Rochester Stoney Creek has faced some adversity on the soccer pitch this season.
The unranked Cougars fought through the first half of the campaign decimated with injuries, playing one game minus seven starters. Plus Stoney Creek was without the services of one of its top players, senior Bobby Harris, who was suiting up for Vardar Academy.
Harris returned to the Cougars’ roster in mid-September and Stoney Creek has been a completely different team.
Harris, also coupled with the return of junior midfielder Alex Vitale, who was sidelined with an injury, has solidified the Cougars’ offense. Stoney Creek has outscored its final seven opponents 24-8 and the team has gone 6-0-1 down the stretch, including Monday’s 4-0 shutout of Lake Orion in a Division 1 pre-district match.
“We haven’t lost since Bobby joined the team,” noted first-year coach Doug Steinard. “We now have Bobby up there with (Michael Melaragni). But I think we have been playing a lot better now — much better defensively. We gave up a lot of goals this season. A lot of (the goals) we (yielded) came in the first half of the season. We have most of our players back. and playing much better.”
Stoney Creek (12-4-4) will now face Rochester, the last team to defeat the Cougars 3-0 back on Sept. 19. Stoney Creek will face the 10th-ranked Falcons in the district semifinals Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Rochester.
Clarkston (9-6-5) and Oxford (5-10-3) on will face off in the first semifinal on Wednesday shootout, while Oxford at Rochester. Clarkston upset No. 2-ranked Rochester Adams, 3-2, in a shootout, while Oxford blanked Waterford Kettering, 6-0.
Rochester also defeated Stoney Creek, 2-1, in last season’s district semifinals, setting up a much-anticipated showdown.
“We’re hoping we can make a run,” added Steinard. “When we played Rochester last time, we did not play very well at all. I think we’re a completely different team than we were a month ago.”
Mr. Soccer candidate Mike Melaragni scored twice for Stoney Creek, giving him 30 goals on the season. Harris, who has committed to Wisconsin, had a goal and an assist, while sophomore Seby Kulyckyj also scored for Stoney Creek. The Cougars have outscored their 20 opponents 57-36.
Senior Nathan Breuhan made five saves for the shutout for the Cougars, who have not won a district since 2013.
Lake Orion finished the year 6-9-2 with four defeats to close the campaign.