By: Dan Stickradt
BOYS SOCCER: Rochester rallies past Clarkston to claim second straight district title
BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester’s boys soccer team is very thankful these days that it has a three-sport athlete playing in goal.
Luke Kastran made a difference Friday night for the Division 1 10th-ranked Falcons.
Host Rochester tested its mettle and rallied past Clarkston, 3-2, in a double-overtime, Division 1 district final — with Kastran coming up big between the pipes.
Kastran, also a baseball pitcher and small forward in basketball, dove to his left to punch aside a Brady Dickens penalty kick with 2:47 left in the second extra session, which catapulted the Falcons to the classic win and into the regional semifinals.
Rochester, which reached the Final Four last season, will play Wednesday at Flint Atwood Stadium against the winner of the Walled Lake Central (18-1-2) and Hartland (13-7-1) district champion.
“I knew it was save this one or try to save five more (in a shootout. Sometimes you can read (the shooter) and sometimes you guess,” offered Kastran. “My strategy is pick a side and stick to it. I guessed right this time, stayed with my gut. I’m glad I came through for my team.”
Senior Luciano Erracande cashed in a breakaway off a long through ball from classmate Marco Gomez with 1:09 left in the first overtime, which proved to be the game-winner for Rochester. It was Erracande’s team-leading 23rd goal of the season — second most goals in Rochester’s history for a single season.
“I was just hoping to score that goal, put my team in front. The goalie came out and I was able to chip it in,” said Erracande. “I would definitely say that was one of biggest goals.”
Clarkston scored twice within a seven-minute span to grab a 2-1 lead.
Maclain Zaremba volleyed in a cross in the corner from John Loch with 18:09 to go in regulation that tied the score at 1-1.
After a hand ball from 19 yards in front of the goal, Dickens sent his bending free kick to the upper 90 of the goal to give Clarkston a 2-1 advantage with 11:22 left.
The Falcons tied the game at 2-2 when senior Grant Benedettini’s high, long cross from the corner that was cashed in by a streaking George Zagrodzki from one yard out with only 2:32 left in regulation.
“We stayed patient and we got that break on the second goal,” said Rochester coach Chris Purgatori. “We haven’t been down much lately, but I had faith that we could create a chance and we did on that goal.”
Clarkston played its game plan to near perfection — clogging up the defensive third of the field and looking for restarts on the counter.
The Wolves (10-7-6) came up agonizingly short.
“We had a great game plan,” said Clarkston coach Curtis Payment. “We actually gave them (some room) knocking it around in the back, but we did a great job of not letting them get too many great scoring chances. We just made a couple of mistakes that led to their goals and that cost us. We scored a pair of nice goals. We just couldn’t hang on in the end and their goalie made a couple of huge saves.”
Rochester’s Marco Gomez staked the Falcons to a 1-0 on a nice individual effort, beating two defenders, nutmegging another before ripping in a shot to the far post with 22:51 remaining in the second half.
Rochester held a 5-4 shots edge during the two overtime periods. Overall, the Falcons held a 15-14 shots edge, with both teams firing the ball on frame eight times.
Rochester (15-2-4) captured its second straight district title for the first time in school history. The Falcons also won district titles in 1990, 1992, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2016.