September 18, 2013 - By Riley Holder
Review Special Writer
When Clarkston and Lake Orion line up against each other in any sporting event, everyone knows that the rivalry is always intense. Usually, not much extra motivation is needed to pump up the players for the game.
However, in a recent soccer meeting between the Wolves and the Dragons, extra motivation is exactly what both teams received as the schools battled to a scoreless tie.
In 2012, after an up and down regular season, the Dragons drew Clarkton as their opponent for their first playoff game in the district semifinal.
Only two weeks earlier, the Wolves had defeated the Dragons 3-1 during a regular season matchup. However Lake Orion scored a 2-1 upset victory.
Perhaps having their season ended by their biggest rivals left a sour taste in Clarkston's mouth.
However, the reason for extra motivation for the 2013 matchup didn't end there.
The 2012 Lake Orion squad was coached by first year head coach Curtis Payment. When the Clarkston head coaching spot opened up during the offseason, Payment was offered the job and accepted.
"I was obviously surprised and I felt kind of betrayed to be honest," Dylan Myers, senior starting goalie, said. "He made it sound like he was here for the long haul. He was a really nice guy. I kind of built a really good bond with him, and I looked up to him, so I took it pretty hard when he left."
Lake Orion responded quickly with the hiring of Matt Paukovits, who coached the Dragons for several years prior to the hiring of Payment in 2012.
For the Lake Orion players, the matchup against Clarkston recently was about more than just scoring a victory against their rival.
Clarkston brought an undefeated 2-0-1 record into the game, including a 2-0 victory just two days earlier against Rochester Adams. The Dragons brought a somewhat disappointing 0-1-2 record into the matchup. Lake Orion's most recent game was a meeting with Holly, which ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
The Dragons and the Wolves both had respectable offensive possessions throughout the game but strong defenses by each team made the difference. At the final buzzer, the score read 0-0.
"I think it was an emotional game. Both teams battled. Both teams played hard and were looking for a break, but it didn't go either way. There were a few chances either way but there weren't clear opportunities. Anytime you have Lake Orion and Clarkston together it's going to be an emotional game. It's hard for the kids to keep the emotion in control and still play. I think the referee did a pretty good job. I was pleased overall with the kids performance," Paukovits said.
The draw left the Dragons' record at 0-1-3.
Paukovits said he believes the team is improving.
"I think we're growing. With just two returning starters from last year, I think we're a work in progress. The kids are working very hard. It's a great group of kids and I want to see them do well."
Myers, one of the senior leaders, said he thinks "It's hard to judge a season this early. As long as we get better every day, I'll call it a success."
Although a draw against Clarkston wasn't the result the team was looking for, the players weren't terribly upset with it.
"I'm alright with the draw. Clarkston is a pretty good team. They're undefeated so far this season, so it's not a bad result for us," senior Mario Arribas said. "I definitely think our team tried to keep the emotions out of the game and play professional, but we definitely felt the emotions with Curtis on the other side."
While it's obvious the team isn't happy that they don't have a win to this point in the season, they aren't ready to give up on the season just yet.
They know that their goals are still ahead of them. With hard work and discipline, it's possible they could face Clarkston again during playoff time.