TROY — What a difference six weeks can make.
After being blanked by fourth-ranked Rochester Stoney Creek, 4-0, back in early-September, Grand Blanc had the last laugh in Tuesday’s Division 1 boys soccer regional semifinal at Troy High School.
The unranked Bobcats rallied back from a late, 3-1 deficit to upset Stoney Creek, 5-3, and advance to the regional finals.
Senior forward Dominic Mastromatteo recorded a hat trick to lead Grand Blanc’s improbable comeback.
“In the last three years, we’ve won districts but lost in the regionals, so this win takes us back to a tradition of excellence,” offered Mastromatteo. “We’re getting back to where we used to be. We knew we were better than the team that lost to them last time.”
Grand Blanc tied the contest at 3-3 with 1:15 left in regulation, as Mastromatteo scored in front of the net following a long cross to send the game into overtime. Mastromatteo also scored to make it 3-2 with just over 28 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bobcats (14-6-2) scored twice in the extra sessions to advance to Thursday’s regional title match against Walled Lake Central, a 1-0 overtime winner over Traverse City Central.
In the second full 10-minute overtime, Grand Blanc took the lead for good when Brett DeHaan scored from 18 yards out with eight minutes to play. Mastermatteo finished off the hat trick and the Cougars with his third goal of the game with 5:57 remaining.
The Cougars (15-3-7), who won the state’s toughest district last week, committed the cardinal sin of letting up the reigns late in regulation and celebrating too early.
“We give up five goals to a good team. You can’t expect to win when you do that,” sighed a stunned Stoney Creek coach Adam Bican. “We just were not organized in the back the way we have been all season. We hadn’t lost since early in the season and then to come here and play like this is disappointing.”
Grand Blanc, which struggled against highly-touted teams in big games this season, came through with its storybook rally to advance to the Elite Eight of the state tournament.
“This type of comeback speaks a lot about the character of this team,” Grand Blanc coach Greg Kehler offered. “For us to come back down 3-1 midway through the second half and then score two more goals (in overtime) against a quality team like Stoney Creek…what a comeback.”
Grand Blanc led early on a goal by Ali Mukhtar, only to see Stoney Creek tie the game in the 16th minute on a free kick goal from Jack Sobczynski.
Scott Alampi had a goal and an assist later in the first half, volleying home a cross from Billy Kobus in the 17th minute while setting up Kobus with a goal of his own within an eight-minute stretch of the second goal
Stoney Creek led 3-1 with nearly 16 minutes to play but could not score again despite having several scoring chances.