BOYS SOCCER:  Oxford rallies past rival Lake Orion; Clarkston cruises past Davison

| October 19, 2021 | Comments (0)



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LAKE ORION  Playing in the loaded OAA Red Division and against an overall schedule that featured 14 opponents that were ranked at least one week in one of the state’s four divisions this season, it’s safe to say that Oxford’s young roster received plenty of baptism under fire over the last couple of months.


But those hard lessons learned are starting to pay dividends in recent days.

Oxford entered a rebuilding year with many question marks after winning thee OAA White Division title in 2020. The Wildcats (9-12-2) suited up seven freshmen and five sophomores for its two district games, including a 2-1 victory over Grand Blanc back on Oct. 14.

Youthful Oxford kept its season alive Tuesday by rallying for a 2-1 victory over host Lake Orion in a Division 1 district semifinal.

“We just keep working and non-stop,” smiled Oxford second-year coach Adam Bican. “Lake Orion is very good and we had to do a couple of things to disrupt that, but in the end the guys just kept working hard.

“We’re so young, but the one thing is we keep getting better and better in every game,” continued Bican. “We’re not the same team we were at the beginning of the year even though we have all of those freshmen and sophomores up on varsity.”

Oxford earned a district finals date with state-ranked Clarkston (13-2-2), which will be played Thursday at 7 p.m., also at Lake Orion. The Wildcats last played in the district finals in 2019, where they succumbed to Grand Blanc (3-2), and last won a district crown back in 2013.

Clarkston defeated Oxford 5-0 in a league game back on Sept. 21.

“Clarkston is a great team — one of the best teams in the state this year,” reminded Bican. “But if we can keep it close I think anything can happen.”

‘Anything’ surely happened against rival Lake Orion.

Oxford and Lake Orion (12-8-2) tied 0-0 back on Aug. 31. This time around the two were deadlocked 0-0 at the half.

Lake Orion finally broke the scoreless drought that was approaching 128 minutes spanning two games with a goal with 32:14 to play.

Sophomore midfielder Alejandro Guajardo turned away his own shot opportunity to slot the ball through the penalty box and senior midfielder Jacob Lee buried his opportunity from 10 yards out in front of the goal.

Lake Orion had plenty of chances — the Dragons even had five second-half cornerkicks and four corners in the final three minutes of the contest — but could not add to its total.

Meanwhile, Oxford scored twice in the final 25 minutes.

The Wildcats’ game-tying goal came with 24:58 to play. Sophomore midfielder Cooper Caufman served the ball off a cornerkick over to the far side of the box. Freshman forward Tristan Warthun was left wide open and his right-footed blast from the left side of the box sailed through traffic and off the leg of a Lake Orion player before spinning into the goal to draw the contest even at 1-1.

Caufman would score what proved to be the game-winner with just 4:10 remaining. His bending cornerkick from the left side went into the near post and Lake Orion senior goalkeeper Noah Wernette was screened on the play and reacted late. The bending kick deflected off Wernette’s hand and over the goal line.

Lake Orion could not net the equalizer.

“You can’t give away restarts. We talked about that (before the game). We gave away a few free kicks in the final third and Oxford took advantage of the restarts,” said Lake Orion coach Chris Corteg. “I wouldn’t say we dominated, but we had more scoring opportunities. It’s just one of those things. They never gave up. They stayed focused. You have to hand it to them. You leave the door open, they are going to find a way to get in.”

Lake Orion held an overall 11-9 shots advantage, including  7-5 with shots on frame, and also held a 6-2 advantage on corrnerkicks.

Oxford senior goalkeeper Jack Brown made six saves in the contest for the win between the pipes. Wernette made three stops for the Dragons.

“This was one of his better games,” admitted Bican of Brown. “He made that great save in the second half punching the ball over the crossbar and a couple of others that kept us in it and gave us a chance to go up at the end.”

CLARKSTON 8, DAVISON 0: In the second district semifinals game, second-ranked Clarkston made quick work of Davison in an 8-0 rout.

The Wolves built a 6-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Clarkston (13-2-2) added two second-half goals to oust the Cardinals (8-8-1).

Junior Richie Ludwig, who finished with two goals and two assists, scored the first two goals in the eighth and 14th minutes to set the tone. The Wolves never took their foot off the pedal, as Dylan Walker, Brendan Gerard, Logan Wise and Evan Dula also scored in the first half for Clarkston.

In the second half, Dula and Walker capped the scoring for the Wolves.

Clarkston recorded its sixth shutout of the campaign. The Wolves have exploded for a 52-18 scoring edge this season and was one of five teams from the OAA Red Division ranked at times this season.

Clarkston will face Oxford (9-12-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday in the district finals at Lake Orion. It marks the fourth straight season the Wolves have reached at least the district finals, although Clarkston lost to Utica Eisenhower in last year’s district finals after winning crowns in 2018 and 2019.

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