October 23, 2013 - A briskness is in the air just in time for the Wolves to kick in the next round of playoffs this week.
"It is an exciting time of year," said Clarkston Boys Varsity Soccer Coach Curtis Payment.
More exciting since the boys became district champions, the first time since 2007, on Saturday after a 1-0 win over Grand Blanc.
"We are really proud of this one because Grand Blanc was the best team in the state," said Payment. "The atmosphere was like a final. It was electric and really tense. It was a great win for the program."
The lone goal came from Jared D'Autremont with 1:11 left to go in the first half. Zach McCallum crossed the ball to Ryan Kissel who passed it on to D'Autremont.
"Jared buried it," Payment smiled. "We finally broke through."
He added it was a closely matched game and defense kept alert to block the Bobcats from breaking in.
"Our defense was amazing," Payment said about D'Autremont, Jack O'Rilley, Mitch McCord and Alex Jones. "Basically rush after rush after rush in the second half we forwarded it. We were able to keep it out of there. They could not crack our defense. It was a really good job by our defense. Jack, who was sick and just gutted it out and played. He was really solid.
"Mitch had a special assignment to mark their best player," he continued. "He frustrated the kid so bad they had to move him to get him away from Mitch. He was really strong in the air."
In the net was junior Grant Gotaas who made a big save three minutes into the game when Grand Blanc shot on a penalty kick.
The Bobcats shot the ball, it ricocheted off the bar and back onto the field. They took another shot and Gotaas stopped them from scoring and taking the lead.
"It kind of woke us up," said Payment. "For the first few minutes we were scrambling. He made that penalty kick save and it set the momentum."
Gotaas blocked 12 shots. Clarkston made six shots on the net.
"We were dangerous," Payment added. "We were getting opportunities and then they started to get risky and move a lot of guys forward."
On the way to winning the championship, the Wolves beat Swartz Creek, 8-0. Ryan Callahan led with three goals. Brad Schultz and Alex Trim scored two goals a piece and Adam Snider had one.
Gotaas made three saves and Cary Wilson had two saves against the Dragons.
The boys played Rochester Adams on Tuesday in the MHSAA Regionals Semifinals, who they have played twice this season and split the games. Adams also hasn't lost a game in three weeks.
"We understand there are no more easy games," Payment said. "We have a tough road to go. We will have to play perfect for four more games if we want to reach our goals."
The winner moves on to the finals on Thursday at Rochester High School. They will play the Traverse City West/Walled Lake Central winner at 6 p.m. The regional winner moves on to MHSAA Soccer Semifinals next Wednesday at Lake Orion, 7 p.m.
See how the Wolves did on Twitter - @CNewsWRSports.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.