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GIRLS SOCCER: Oakland Christian makes run to first Final Four behind stellar campaign and blistering scoring pace

Updated: Jun 12


BY DAN STICKRADT

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST | WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR | DIRECTOR OF NEWS

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW/X: @msn_stickradt @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Patrick Reyes remembers his kids walking off the pitch last June simply dejected.


Heartbroken.


After his Auburn Hills Oakland Christian’s girls soccer team had won the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference league title with a late-season win over Plymouth Christian less than two weeks prior, his team advanced to the Division 4 district finals only to lose Clarkston Everest Collegiate/Sacred Heart Unified, 6-0.


That was the worst loss of a 12-4-1 campaign in 2023 for Oakland Christian. Everest went on to become the Division 4 state runner-up, while the Lancers went home with no postseason hardware.


The Lancers dropped three of their final four games of the season last year, also losing non-conference games to Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett (4-0) and to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (6-2), but opened up the district semifinals with a 7-0 shutout of Brighton Charyl Stockwell Prep to set up the date with Everest.


“We just had a bad day last year where nothing went right for us (in the district finals),” recalled Reyes, who is in his sixth season as head coach at Oakland Christian.




This year has been different, especially after a loss. True, the eighth-ranked Lancers have suffered four defeats again this season, including a 3-2 heartbreaker to Plymouth Christian in the second to last league game of the season in a game where the Lancers led 2-1 with under five minutes remaining in the second half. But they have recuperated quickly and have fought through a challenging schedule that features several ranked teams.


The other losses this year came against No. 2-ranked Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (4-1), Division 2 No. 12 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (8-0) and Everest Collegiate (1-0) back on May 2. This time around Oakland Christian (16-4-0) was able to defeat Everest 4-1 in the district finals on May 30.


Oakland Christian has outscored four postseason foes 23-5 this season with wins over Byron (9-1), 12th-ranked Clarkston Everest Collegiate (4-1), Hemlock (8-2) and 11th-ranked Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central (2-1) in overtime. The last win came in the regional finals, which not only gives the Lancers their first-ever regional title in girls soccer but lands them in the Final Four for the first time in program history.


Oakland Christian’s boys soccer team owns six regional crowns in its storied history.



“We’ve worked so hard all season to get over the district hump and now we won our first regional in school history,” noted Reyes, whose squad won their first district crown this season since 2017. “Sure, we’re disappointed that we lost that Plymouth Christian game where if we would have won we would have defended our league title. We ended up losing that game 3-2 after giving up two goals. But we’ve played well all season and I don’t think we’ve lost two games in a row.”


Oakland Christian finished 7-1-0 in MIAC play this season where it held a 54-10 scoring edge with three shutouts. Overall, the Lancers have outscored their foes 106-29, one of the highest numbers for team goals in program history, to go along with seven shutouts.


In the regional title-clinching win over Nouvel, senior forward Leah Zarrilli scored twice off assists from Taylor Ahn and Jessica Reyes, respectively. Zarrilli, who has over 100 career goals, leads the team with a single-season school record 43 goals to go along with 12 assists. The old record was 42 goals set by Victoria Lucido a decade ago.


Junior midfielder Jessica Reyes has 19 goals and 23 assists this season and sophomore midfielder Rowan Klein has 21 goals and 23 assists. Ahn, a junior midfielder, has also contributed to the attack as has junior midfielders Abbey Cornell and Valeria Santurtun, who is a first-year starter and perhaps the team’s most improved player according to Reyes.


Senior Abbie Franey (OB), who is a standout softball player and playing double-duty this spring, has helped out the backfield that has conceded around 1.15 goals a game. Senior center back Haley Daulton and sophomores Alexa Daulton and Morgan Kwapis have aided the back line that has conceded 23 goals but has allowed only five in the postseason.

 



With sophomore goalkeeper Audrey Phillips breaking her wrist in early May and is out for the remainder of the season, freshman Sydney Yates has taken over the starting goalkeeper role.


“With the injury to our starting keeper, Sydney has stepped in there and done a nice job after not getting a lot of minutes earlier in the season,” noted Reyes. “She works really hard at it and she’s like a sponge, always trying to learn her position and get better and better. She’s come a long ways this season. And our defense has really stepped up this season but particularly over the last couple of weeks. We wouldn’t have been able to get this far without our defense.”


Oakland Christian will face unranked but talented and underrated Jackson Lumen Christian in the state semifinals June 11 at 6 p.m. at Waterford Kettering.


“I know they’ve been here before and that they’re a traditionally good team. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t good,” said Reyes. “We’ll research them and get prepared to play them the best we can.


“The girls are excited because this is our first time here and they have worked so hard to get here,” added Reyes.



(Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com.) 






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