BY DAN STICKRADT
WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR
ROCHESTER HILLS – The road to the OAA Red Division title in girls soccer began in Rochester Hills this season and ends once again inside the community.
Division 1 top-ranked Rochester earned a 1-1 home draw Wednesday against No. 5 and once-beaten Rochester Stoney Creek in an OAA Red Division make-up game. The point gives the Falcons 14 total points and their second straight league championship. Stoney Creek finishes with 13 points (4-1-1 in league play).
Rochester (12-0-2) has gone unbeaten inside league play two years in a row (4-0-2 OAA-Red both years) with Stoney Creek finishing second this year after tying for fourth with Troy last season in the seven-school division. The Falcons have also gone unbeaten at home for three straight seasons – the first time in the 41-year history of the girls soccer program at Rochester that feat has occurred.
“That is what is so impressive, going three straight years with all wins and ties at home because of the schedule we play that’s not easy,” said Rochester coach Doug Steinard. “This group has been special since Day 1.
“Back in 2020 we had a lot of freshmen that made varsity and we might have started close to seven freshmen that year, but then it was shut down and we were told that it would resume in a couple of weeks and of course that never happened and the seasons was (eventually) cancelled,” offered Steinard. “Two years ago we had one big loss in the league and that was an away game at Troy Athens. But still had a good year and finished third in the league. Last year and this year we didn’t lose at home again and we didn’t lose a league game. There’s a lot of players on this roster that have been apart of all of this.”
Rochester has outscored the opposition this year 35-9 with six shutouts – 14-4 with two shutouts in OAA-Red play – and had similar numbers last season. Overall last season, the Falcons outscored its six league opponents 12-6 with two clean sheets and 59-17 overall over 22 games enroute to a berth in the state semifinals (17-1-4 overall league record).
Against Stoney Creek, this is the third straight regular season where Rochester earned a draw against Stoney Creek, which won the league back in 2021. Each of those games ended in 1-1 ties. The last time the Falcons and Cougars squared off the game came the Division 1 district finals last June where Rochester grabbed a 2-1 victory which ended in penalties (3-2 on PKs).
It was the Cougars that drew first blood with 6:36 left in the first half off a restart. Ava Avripas’ corner kick into the box was headed home by reigning Miss Soccer and Miss Soccer 2023 candidate Lilley Bosley.
It was Bosley’s team- and league-leading 31st goal of the season, as the University of Michigan signee and top 100 national recruit continues to shine in her bid to become a rare two-time winner of Miss Soccer – and that comes from playing in one of the state’s top leagues and top districts.
Rochester responded in the second half with 35:00 remaining. Junior Katelyn Guolla deposited a rebound into the bank to knot the score at 1-all.
“I thought we played better in the first half. We had some great chances and you have to burry some of those, especially against really good teams like Rochester,” said Stoney Creek coach Bryan Mittelstadt. “We were able to get one in on Bosley’s header but they were able to come out in the first five minutes of the second half and they had more chances on us in the second half.
“It was still a good game with two top-five teams going after each other,” added Mittelstadt. “It wasn’t always pretty but both teams had chances. We just come up short in the league but who knows – we may see them again.”
Stoney Creek (16-1-1) has outscored the opposition 60-6 this season with 13 shutouts. They handed previously-unbeaten Okemos a 3-0 setback two days earlier. The Cougars actually hit the crossbar twice in the first 40 minutes while Rochester had numerous crosses into the box cleared away from danger.
“We had several great crosses. Natalie Rayce, Ava Williams and Alaina Webb all had some great crosses into the box that we need to do a better job of getting someone on those. And Stoney Creek had some quality chances, too. They actually hit the crossbar twice in the first half and a couple of other nice shots. But we have a 6-foot-2 goalkeeper that comes down with almost everything.”
The two sides have a scattering of non-league games over the next two weeks before settling into one of the toughest districts -- all four divisions combined – in late May. The district features Rochester, Rochester Stoney Creek, Rochester Adams, Utica Eisenhower, Romeo, Utica and Lake Orion – with the first five teams all spending time in the Top 15 of the rankings or honorable mention, while Utica is in contention in the Macomb Area Conference White Division title this season and Lake Orion won a different district the last two years and finished third in the OAA White Division this season.
“It’s going to be so tough for everyone,” reminded Steinard. “We haven’t won anything yet.”