BY DAN STICKRADT
WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR
UTICA – When in doubt, leave it to your best players to make something happen.
Third-ranked Rochester Stoney Creek went to its big guns against formerly state-ranked and honorable mention Romeo Tuesday night at Utica in its Division 1 district semifinal match.
Reigning Miss Soccer Lilley Bosley headed home a cross from senior Kaeli Butcher in the 61st minute and the Cougars made it stand in a 1-0 shutout of Romeo.
Stoney Creek, which defeated state-ranked and MAC Red Division champion Utica Eisenhower 3-2 last week in a pre-district contest that reached a shootout, improved to 21-1-1 on the season and now have outscored the opposition 75-8 with 17 shutouts. More importantly, the Cougars earned a 6 p.m. date Friday with top-ranked and OAA Red Division champion Rochester (18-0-2), also at Utica’s Swinehart Stadium.
“We are a little banged up from that Eisenhower game last week,” admitted Stoney Creek coach Bryan Mittelstadt. “Lily Solek was really sick last week but we got her back in our backfield. Some other players were hurt and nicked up against Eisenhower. But we got everyone back and found a way (to win).
“Bosley got high enough to head that cross from Butcher in and that was the difference,” noted Mittelstadt. “It was a little shaky for us late in the first half. Romeo had some chances.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Merrick Schwalbach earned the shutout on eight saves for Stoney Creek, which advanced to the district finals for the third year in a row. The Cougars lost to Romeo (1-0) in the district finals in 2021 and exorcised those demons Tuesday. Stoney Creek also lost 2-1 to Rochester in last year’s district finals and that game reached a shootout.
“I’ve been to the district finals several times in my (tenure) as head coach and only been able to win it twice,” noted Mittelstadt. “The district finals have not been kind to us. Hopefully this time around we’ll have a better result.”
Romeo’s Eva Hill had eight saves for Romeo, which ended the year with a very respectable 14-4-5 record, a MAC-Red runner-up finish and a team that collected a school record 16 shutouts and outscored the opposition 37-10.