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BOYS SOCCER: Casualty of War: Clarkston stuns No. 5 Rochester Adams

| October 17, 2016 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

ROCHESTER HILLS — At 5-foot-8, Noah Bridgeman might have been one of the smallest players on the soccer pitch Monday night.

With the way the Clarkston sophomore goalkeeper performed, he might as well have been an age-old Redwood tree hovering up near the clouds.

Bridgeman stood tall between the pipes, patrolling the penalty box with authority and leading the Wolves to one of the biggest opening-round upsets around the state of Michigan in a district that featured four schools that spent time in the Division 1 top 20 this season.

Clarkston scored a pair of counterattack goals in the second half and hung on for dear life in a stunning 2-1 victory over fifth-ranked Rochester Adams, the OAA Red Division champion which had reached the regional finals (2013), state finals (2014) and state semifinals (2015) over the past three campaigns.

“I just kept saying to myself — don’t give up goals on set pieces,” said Bridgeman. “Just don;t let the ball go into the net and hopefully get out of here with a ‘W’ and we did. This was a big upset, for sure. Probably my biggest game in high school.”

In fact, Adams had knocked Clarkston out of the state tournament in both 2014 (regional finals) and 2015 (district semifinals) during its long tournament runs. Clarkston enacted some measure of revenge on one of the state’s premier programs.

“(Bridgeman) had to step up because Adams had a big size advantage,” noted Clarkston coach Curtis Payment. “He stepped up in a major way when we needed him to.

“You know Adams has knocked us out twice in recent years. I guess this was maybe a little revenge on them,” added Payment. “I think we finally played an 80-minute game of organized defense. We’ve struggled with our organization with some bad goals (allowed). Tonight, Adams really had to earn that goal.”

Clarkston, which was ranked for two-thirds of the season before falling out of the D-1 top 20 two weeks ago, withstood constant pressure in the opening 40 minutes to keep the game scoreless.

Adams (12-5-4) continued to pressure the Wolves’ backfield with legions of long throw-ins, corner kicks, free kicks and long through balls in the second half.

But it was Clarkston (9-7-3) that struck first, even though the Wolves did not attempt a single shot from the 15th minute until their first goal with 25:25 to play.

Senior Kyle Hayes perfectly slotted a through ball following a long clear and classmate Robbie Farrell deposited the breakaway feed past Adams goalkeeper Dylan Brown, who yielded two goals in a game for the only time this season.

The upset-minded Wolves countered again with the eventual game-winner with 18:11 remaining. This time senior Josh McCaghy retrieved a through ball from Hayes, slipped past two defenders on a 3-on-2 rush and chipped a shot into the corner of the goal from 17 yards out.

Adams outshot Clarkston by a 12-5 margin, including 5-4 with shots directly on frame, and even had a 4-1 edge with cornerkicks to go along with their constant pressure on Bridgeman and the Wolves’ backfield.

The pressure finally paid off with 4:26 remaining when junior Ryan Alda volleyed in a failed clearing attempt from 21 yards out that quickly got acquainted with the back of the net.

“Credit to Adams. Champions don’t give up and they eventually scored that late goal,” said Payment. “They made it interesting, to say the least, but we hung on.”

Clarkston did not fold again under the pressure to advance to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. district semifinal at Adams against 12th-ranked Rochester Stoney Creek.

Stoney Creek dispatched Waterford Kettering 8-0 in another district opener, while Rochester toppled Waterford Mott (5-0) and Lake Orion ousted Oxford (5-0).

Adams suffered a rare first-round departure after three long postseason runs with a senior-laden roster of 13 players in their final prep season.

“We just didn’t get it done. We didn’t capitalize on all of the chances we had,” sighed Adams coach Josh Hickey. “They found a couple of ways to get by us and put it in. The second one was hard to come back from. We did have one goal called back. They called in-direct, which I think was fair. We had other chances to score. We just didn’t get it done.

“It stinks not being able to play a little longer, especially with this group of seniors,” added Hickey. “They were primed and ready. It just shows that you can’t take anything for granted. The games — anybody can come in and take it from you and Clarkston did that.”soccer - balls on field

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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