Booters trounce Hazel Park, take 3rd at invite
September 14, 2011 - Oxford's varsity boys soccer team debuted their new home turf by scoring early and often against Hazel Park on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
|OHS junior Paul Tomaka (#8) fights to keep control of the ball against a Clarkston player. Photo by Wendi Reardon. (click for larger version)|
What a debut it was as the Wildcats would send the crowd home happy following an 8-0 victory over the Vikings.
"The win was a morale booster all around," varsity soccer coach John Thaler said. "As I've said before, the OAA is probably the strongest league in the state and we'll take a win given the level of competition we face."
In front of a sparse crowd due to the wind and the threat of rain, the Wildcats jumped all over Hazel Park right from the opening kickoff. Within the opening five minutes of the game, Oxford sophomore Chase Garavaglia would score a hat-trick and senior Marco Bonfiglio scored the Wildcat's fourth goal.
By the 10-minute mark, senior Michael Kitchner scored, extending their lead to 5-0.
Hazel Park would settle in after that, only giving up two goals, one to sophomore Travis Simat and senior Alex Junti, in the final 30 minutes of the first half.
Thaler said his game plan was playing simple, effective soccer.
"With our strong defense, we build from the back," he added. We are a defensive minded team, so we know to take advantage of our scoring opportunities on the offensive end."
Thaler credited Hazel Park's goalie for his solid play due to the amount of shots he had to face.
However, Kitchner ended the game in the 48th minute when he blasted a shot from 30 yards out underneath the crossbar and just over the outstretched fingers of the goalie.
Thaler said finally having a true home game was "fantastic."
"The boys knew they were part of history and to earn a win to open the field was exciting," he added. "Every player got a decent amount of playing time and it was truly a team victory."
On Saturday, Sept. 10, Oxford hosted the Wildcats Invitational against Midland Dow, Clarkston, Brandon, Goodrich and Lake Orion.
Even though they wound up placing third in the tournament, Thaler was impressed with how well his boys played.
"I placed us with tough teams and we showed we can stand our ground, he said. "We played defensively when we needed to and scored when given the opportunity."
The news wasn't all positive for Oxford on the day as senior captain Alex Junti would be sidelined with a concussion and is expected to miss the next two weeks.
Midland Dow won the tournament.
Up next for the boys are back-to-back games against Ferndale. They travel to Ferndale on Tuesday, Sept. 13 before hosting Ferndale on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Game time on Thursday is 7 p.m.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.