October 30, 2013 - Kickers left Rochester High School with their heads held high as they finished the season in the first round of MHSAA Regionals, Oct. 22.
Brad Schultz steers the ball out of Clarkston territory during the first half against Rochester Adams. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
They finished after a 1-0 shootout loss to Rochester Adams. Clarkston defenders and junior goalie Grant Gotaas shut them out every opportunity the Highlanders took.
"They were great," said Curtis Payment, Clarkston Boys Varsity Soccer Head Coach. "Adams didn't have a lot of dangerous chances. They played a counteract game so they would make these fast rushes so they did put pressure on us but our defense was really solid. We had a back line that didn't give up a lot of goals this year anyways."
The Wolves were close in the first half when Joey DeFinis, Brad Schultz and Ryan Kissel made three separate attacks on the net. They totaled four shots during the game and two during shootout.
Gotaas had nine total saves during the game.
"He had a couple of really good saves and some crosses," said Payment. "They had a lot of crosses and throw in and he was great on those. He played really well again this year."
The boys finish the season 15-7-3.
"It was a great season," Payment said. "It was a really fun season. We felt immediately we were going to have a good team. The community and a lot of the parents knew that as well. We had to live with those expectations on our shoulders. It was a good thing in the long run but we did put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The boys worked hard."
The Wolves claimed their first district title in six years with three shutouts over Carman Ainsworth, Swartz Creek and Grand Blanc.
"It was a great experience for the kids," Payment added. "We improved our record in the league. We improved on the number of wins we had. It really exceeded expectations for me. Losing on a penalty kick in the end takes the happiness away from it but at the end of the day we had a good season. I was really happy."
The team bids farewell to 13 seniors: Joey Alli, Ryan Callahan, Jared D'Autremont, Matt Hamilton, Ryan Kissel, Max Mansour, Zach McCallum, Mitch McCord, Mitch Menard, Jack O'Rilley, Brandon Reynolds, Brad Schultz and Alex Trim.
Payment added they left behind an impression on the returners with their work ethic and how they handled themselves off the field.
"These guys did two-a-day practices for three months," he said. "It was led by the senior class. They showed us how hard you have to work to win a district title and move past that.
"The other legacy they leave is how to conduct yourself in society," Payment continued. "With these guys we had no disciplinary actions only good things from teachers. Their grades were excellent."
The team has 13 players coming back including five sophomores and eight juniors.
"They have seen what it takes to get to where we want to go," Payment added. "It was incredibly helpful. We had a core of five sophomores who got a lot of playing time and got to see a lot of great experiences. I think it is going to be great for our team next year and motivate this winter and this summer to take that next step. We definitely have the talent to do it."
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.