BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Sometimes a little change in scenery can do wonders. It sure helped Miles Dale refocus for his senior year of high school.
Dale, who started his final year at Rochester High School in September, attended a military school in Tennessee last spring and he returned to Rochester in July a changed man.
Dale has emerged Rochester’s best soccer player this season. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound standout is not flashy by any means and does not dazzle with Pele-like moves with the ball. But he combines great strength, power, speed, field vision and versatility to become a standout player.
“Miles came back refocused, a better leader and more tuned in to what we are doing,” said Rochester coach Chris Purgatori. “We didn’t even know if we’d have him back. But what a difference he’s made since last season.”
The soft-spoken Dale just wants to enjoy his senior year.
“This is my last shot (at winning a title),” said Dale. “We have most of our team back from last year and we’re one of the better teams in our league. We would like to win some games in the playoffs and hopefully make a run.”
With a changed attitude and renewed work ethic, Dale has done everything to impress and can play all over the field.
Scoring 11 goals in the regular season for Rochester, the OAA Red Division runner up, Dale often begins the game at forward but regularly gets shifted back to the midfield or even central defense to help Rochester protect a lead.
“He’s so valuable to us because he can play all over,” said Purgatori. “He means a lot to this program.”
Dale, who plays club ball with WAZA, accepted a Division I scholarship over the summer to play soccer at Big East member Cincinnati next school year. Ironically, Dale has never suited up for an Academy team, which began in 2007 and has lured many of the state’s top players into the club-only circuit.
“I never wanted to do it,” admitted Dale. “I know a lot of good players have played academy, but now they can’t play high school at the same time.”
Dale came into Rochester High in the fall of 2009 and made the varsity cut, spending his freshman season on the varsity doing what he does best — playing all over the field. He also pitched some varsity games in baseball and played varsity baseball as a sophomore.
Dale is a four-year varsity veteran in soccer, but missed half of his junior season with injuries. Dale’s sophomore year saw him earn All-District and All-North Oakland Area Second Team honors.
He is also a placekicker and tight end in football, playing that sport in high school for the first time.
But soccer is his love and passion and so is leading Rochester this season.
“I just want to do what it takes to help this team succeed,” smiled Dale. “I was gone for a few months. It gave me a chance to re-evaluate some things. Now I’m ready (to lead).”
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