BOYS SOCCER: Rochester Hills Christian’s shootout win gives Eagles first MACS state title since 1992 |
BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Marques Hatcher hasn’t spent much time between the pipes this season. The junior from Rochester Hills Christian got his chance to play goalkeeper Saturday afternoon and delivered on the big stage.
Inserted into net for his team’s shootout against Davison Faith Baptist, Hatcher turned aside two of Faith’s four shooters as the Eagles held a 4-2 edge on penalty kicks and ended up posting a 1-0 victory in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I state finals at Clarkston Springfield Christian.
The win not only avenged a 2-1 loss to Faith Baptist in last year’s state title game, but gave RHC its first state title in boys soccer since 1992. The Eagles won four straight MACS-I titles from 1989-1992 and finished as the state runner-up in both 1993 and 2011.
“I guess my coaches and teammates trust me,” said Hatcher, an All-State basketball player with great hands. “I know it is athleticism why I sometimes play goalkeeper. But all of the glory goes to God. I couldn’t do it without him.”
Faith Baptist missed on its first attempt and Hatcher dove to his right to save the fourth shot in the shootout.
“He was one of our goalkeepers last year. He split time there. But he’s also our most athletic player so we went with him in the shootout,” said Rochester Hills Christian coach Jerry Slota of Hatcher. “He stepped up when we needed him to.”
The two teams split in the regular season, with Rochester Hills winning the first game 5-0 and Faith Baptist taking the rematch 4-0. This time the defenses were far more sturdy.
The rivals combined for 39 shot attempts throughout 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. Rochester Hills Christian held a 22-17 shots edge overall, with RHC junior Jared Brown collecting 12 saves and Faith Baptist senior Austin Brantley also collecting 12 saves, as both fired 12 shots directly on frame..
Neither side wilted until the shootout.
Jesse Montgomery, Adriel Byers and Christian Ohly all converted their penalty kicks for RCH, setting the stage for junior Andrew Zink, who calmly slipped his shot into the corner on the Eagles’ fourth attempt to clinch the win.
“I don’t usually have a favorite spot because I’ve never been in a shootout before. I never even taken a penalty kick in an actual game before,” admitted Zink. “I wasn’t all that nervous. I just knew I had to make it.”
Rochester Hills ended a 20-year drought without a state title. Slota starred on the Eagles’ first title team as a senior in 1989, playing goalkeeper in a 2-1 win over Roseville Calvary Christian.
“It means a lot as a coach. You see these guys in practice every day, working hard and growing as players and young men,” said Slota. “It was a great feeling as a player and just as amazing as a coach. We beat a great team. Davison has been a really good team for the past 20 years or so. It’s a great accomplishment for our guys to beat them in the state championship game.”
Davison Faith Baptist’s senior class was part of four state finalist teams. Faith won state titles in 2009 and 2001 and finished as the state runner-up in 2010 and now 2012. Overall, they have played in the state finals 10 times.
“We have one four-year starter and the others played junior varsity but we pulled up from the tournament their freshman years. They were three-year starters,” offered Faith Baptist co-coach Mike Knakel. “This was a great group of guys. We just came up a little short.
“Both teams had their fair share of chances,” continued Knakel. “I don’t think we played our best game. I wonder if we played better (in regulation) if we could have won. Rochester played a very good game. They deserve some credit.”
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance