BOYS SOCCER: Posawatz’s heroics lift Clarkston past Oxford and into regional finals; Adams slips past Traverse City Central

| October 23, 2014 | Comments (0)




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UTICA — Sometimes heroes can be found in the most unlikely sources.

For Clarkston, the hero has come in the form of defenseman David Posawatz.

After not scoring a single goal during the regular season in both 2013 and 2014, the 6-foot-1 senior scored in his fourth consecutive postseason game, and the unranked Wolves remained alive and well in the Division 1 state tournament with a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Oxford in a regional semifinal at Utica’s Swinehart Stadium.

“I’m not a great finisher,” smiled Posawatz. “I think the one thing out of anything is, I’m smarter than my skill and anything else. I’m just going to do everything I can to put my body on the line and put it in.”

Despite Oxford controlling play throughout much of the second half, the Wolves (12-6-5) scored on a counterattack chance. Junior defender Ethan Price’s bending, left-footed cornerkick sailed right to an onrushing Posawatz, who used his size to head home a shot with 25:23 remaining in the contest.

“(in the regular season), he hasn’t scored in two years,” smiled Clarkston coach Curtis Payment. “He picked a good time to get hot and we love him for it.”

Clarkston, which advanced to the regional finals for the fifth time in school history, will face Rochester Adams in the regional title game at 5 p.m., Saturday, also at Swinehart.

Adams has defeated Clarkston in three straight meetings, including 3-1 back in September and 2-1 in a shootout in last year’s regional semifinals.

“They beat us up pretty good in league play this season,” said Payment. “We’re looking forward to getting another shot at playing them again.”

Grant Gotaas has been the backbone of Clarkston’s defense in the postseason the past two years. The Wolves have posted multiple upsets, including downing then second-ranked Grand Blanc in last year’s district finals and fifth-ranked Walled Lake Northern last Saturday in this year’s district finals.

Gotaas finished the night with five saves for his sixth shutout of the season.

“I just think that Grant is the best goalie in the state,” boasted Payment. “I really do. He did a ton of work tonight on the air game, crosses and flicks, which is where (Oxford is) dangerous. We just have a lot of confidence in him and he’s at the top of his game. Oxford is 18-2-2 for a reason.”

Junior Connor Bandel, an All-State athlete in the shot put, finished with two saves for Oxford in defeat.

“It was a one-goal game. I expected it was going to be close and that’s exactly what happened,” sighed Oxford coach John Thaler, who last coached a team to the regional round in 2008 (D-2).

Oxford, a longtime power in Class B/Division 2 dating back to the late 1980s, won its first district title last week since moving up to Division 1 in 2009. The Wildcats finished 18-2-2, the third-highest win total in school history and second-highest in coach John Thaler’s 13-year tenure at Oxford.

“I give (Clarkston) credit, they’re a great team,” offered Oxford coach John Thaler. “They’re in the (Oakland Activities Association) Red Division for a reason. We came into the game with high expectations. The way it came out was not in our favor but the boys left everything on the field. We’ve had a fantastic season. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

ROCHESTER ADAMS 2, TRAVERSE CITY CENTRAL 1: Adams rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit Wednesday to oust the Trojans in this Division 1 regional semifinal at Midland Community Soccer Stadium.

The event was moved from Utica to Midland to accommodate TC Central’s long bus ride on a school night.

Adams will face Clarkston for the regional championship Saturday at Utica’s Swinehart Stadium. The Highlanders lost in the regional finals a year ago to Traverse City West (2-1).

Lennart Zorn scored both goals for Adams (11-4-7), including the game winner off a Matt Wise cross with 34 minutes to play in the scone half. Wise netted the game-tying goal in the 27th minute of a feed from Devin Beyer.

“This is third straight game in the postseason where we had to come back,” said Adams coach Josh Hickey, who has led the Highlanders to the regional finals for the second straight season and third time in six seasons. “This team does not get rattled. Traverse City Central is a solid team. We were fortunate enough to come back and score two goals on them. We seem to have (the knack) of coming back on teams. We have done it several times this season.”

Traverse City Central (14-7-2) went ahead 1-0 in the 25th minute off a goal by Andy Brott. The lead was short-lived, as Adams scored only 1:09 later to make it a 1-1 game at the half.

“The boys are used to playing big games like these. We’ll be ready for Clarkston, as I’m sure they will be pumped to play us,” said Hickey. “We got this far last season. I’m sure the boys would like to exercise those demons.”


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