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Cranbrook advances to D-2 final with shootout win over Dexter

Soccer   | Jeff Dullack

Cranbrook advances to D-2 final with shootout win over Dexter

Auburn Hills – After watching its 2-0 lead over Dexter disappear in a matter of 15 minutes, Cranbrook was forced to go to extra time as the Cranes were in search of their first state championship game appearance in school history and after the two 10 minute overtime sessions came without a goal, the game headed to a shootout to find a winner.

In the sixth round of the shootout after watching the previous shooter miss his shot high, Cranbrook senior Peter Augier drilled a shot into the upper right side of the net to lift the Cranes to a 3-2 win over Dexter, sending the Cranes to the Division 2 state championship game.

“We practice them a lot in practice,” Augier said of his mindset as he was walking up for his penalty kick. “I knew what I was going to do, we’re really diligent with our PK’s and I just had the mindset of where I was going to go and I just placed it there.”

Cranbrook will face defending state champion, East Lansing on Saturday for the Division 2 state title at Brighton.

After the first five shooters for both teams each accounted for three goals in the shootout session, Augier was tabbed as the sixth and what turned out to be the final shooter for the Cranes and Cranbrook coach Chad O’Kulich noted that the senior worked his way up to being the sixth shooter for his team with the work he put in throughout the season.

“This is the neat thing about Peter Augier, he started off in the PKs as 11th (at the beginning of the season),” he said. “But we’ve practiced for a while and he’s worked his way up to number six, he never got frustrated. His number was called tonight and he seized that opportunity. He was number six coming into this game, the keeper was number seven and so on and so forth, so the players knew who they were, there were no surprises and they were ready to execute.”

Cranbrook grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half on a Kolin Clark goal, as Clark scored his fifth goal in the past three playoff games for the Cranes.

The Cranes then padded their lead early in the second half, when Stephen Luckoff sent a free kick towards the net and the ball found the head of Kenny Kernen, who sent the header past the Dexter keeper for the 2-0 lead with 37:41 left in regulation.

“We practice restarts every single day,” Luckoff said. “For me, I give all the credit to Kenny Kernen there, I delivered the ball, but hats off to him for putting in the back of the net.”
Dexter finally broke through with just 18:44 to go in the game when Torrin Bates scored on a penalty kick to cut the deficit down to 2-1.

The equalizer of the game came just over 15 minutes later when senior Joel Anderson sent a free kick in from just outside the box and found junior Ben VanderRoest, who knotted the game at 2-2 with 3:29 left in regulation to force overtime.

After a scoreless overtime session, the two teams found themselves in a 3-3 tie after the first five rounds of the shootout as Dexter’s Luke Bazick, Peter Assenmacher and Bates each found the back of the net for the Dreadnaughts, while Kernen, Blake Norwick and Luckoff each scored in the shootout for Cranbrook, before Augier netted the game-winner.

Cranbrook will play East Lansing, which picked up an overtime win on Wednesday over Mason, on Saturday at 3:00 pm at Brighton high school.

Despite seeing his team win in dramatic fashion on Wednesday, O’Kulich said that after watching the game-winner go in, his attention was immediately on Saturday afternoon.

“Let’s get ready for the next game,” he said. “Let’s not over-celebrate, let’s enjoy the moment, let’s be present, but let’s get ready for the next game and let’s be ready to play.”