BY DAN STICKRADT
PONTIAC — Soccer is truly a game of patience.
Regardless of how many scoring chances a team can develop, it doesn’t always translate into much production on the scoreboard.
Michigan Bucks, the No. 1 ranked in the 73-franchise Premier Development League, played such a game of patience Saturday night, going nearly 30 minutes without a goal and only scoring one time in a 1-0 shutout of visiting Real Colorado Foxes at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
Michigan, the top seed in the four-team PDL Central Conference tournament, outplayed the Real Colorado Foxes in all phases Saturday night to earn a berth in the Central Conference finals at 6 p.m. Sunday, also at the at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
The Bucks (17-2-2) peppered Foxes goalkeeper Miguel Rosales all night, with Rosales finishing with 12 saves in 13 attempts. Michigan outshot Real Colorado by a commanding 27-7 margin, including 13-6 with shots directly on frame, and even generated nine cornerkicks in the contest.
Still, Michigan could only muster one goal, a disappointing factor to the Bucks, who have outscored the opposition 25-4 in home games and 58-14 overall this season.
“In the second half, especially those chances on the open goal, we wanted to score so we could use some more subs,” offered Michigan coach Gary Parsons. “We wanted to start to do some defensive replacements. But with a one-goal lead, if they score, then it’s tied up and you’ve taken some attackers out and then you hurt yourself.
“It’s very frustrating not only because you don’t get the second goal to help the win the game, but you know if you get that second goal you can save some legs for tomorrow,” added Parsons.
Stewart Givens (Troy/Oakland) set up the goal, beating his mark along the end line with his bending cross soaring to a wide open Nermin Crnkic, who volleyed home a shot from eight yards out at 29:50.
“We started playing from the back and Stew made an overlapping run by Nate (Boyden). I saw it kind of building up and I always think the ball is going to come to the back. When he crossed it, luckily I was in the back waiting and I just finished my chance,” said Crnkic.
Parsons was equally impressed with the game-winner.
“Not only the goal, but the service off of that cross by (Givens) was outstanding,” smiled Parsons. “It was such a great goal.”
The Bucks defense made Crnkic’s goal stand. Michigan goalkeeper Adam Grinwis turned aside six shots to earn his 12th shutout of the season in 21 games, lowering his league-leading goals-against-average to under 0.40.
“Adam comes up big when we need him and he did a couple of times tonight,” said Parsons. “I thought the whole defense did a great job.”
Real Colorado coach Herman Sullivan felt his team held tough with Michigan and believed his team should have netted the equalizer.
“Interesting No. 1 seed,” said Sullivan. “I thought we played well enough to win. They had a couple of chances. They took care of it and we didn’t.
“I felt that if you outshoot a team by a large margin you should win by a large margin,” continued Sullivan. “The shots and the result of the game are very different. We can get outshot 20-1, but if our shot goes in, it’s a different game. The shots don’t matter.”
Michigan had ample chances to put the game way in each half. Both Stefan St. Louis and All-PDL First-Team selection Tommy Catalano misfired on open-net breakaways in the second half. Givens also hit the crossbar in the first half among a gackle of scoring chances.
Michigan possessed the ball nearly 90 percent of the game.
Luigi Clendening had Colorado’s best scoring chance in the 70th minute, but his blast from the corner of the box was stopped cold by Grinwis.
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