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Cranbrook begins postseason with win over Notre Dame Prep

Soccer   | Jeff Dullack

Cranbrook begins postseason with win over Notre Dame Prep

Bloomfield Hills – As the boys soccer playoffs got underway on Monday afternoon, the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood soccer team entered the postseason with a blend of both youth and experience it felt could help the Cranes make some noise.

And on Monday night, both the team’s youth and experience stepped up for Cranbrook.

The Cranes, behind goals from sophomore Kolin Clark and senior Paul Holmes, picked up a 2-0 win over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in the district opener to kick-off the postseason.

Cranbrook now advances to the district semifinals where the Cranes will meet Goodrich.

“We have a blend of upperclassmen and underclassmen,” Cranbrook head coach Chad O’Kulich said. “First and foremost, we have amazing senior leadership, especially in our captains, Paul Holmes and Stephen Luckoff, surrounded by the rest of the senior class that also provide that leadership who are role models and offer mentorship to the younger players to make us a cohesive unit.”

With the Cranes clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the game, Cranbrook managed to create some breathing room with just over four minutes left to play when Clark lined up a corner kick that found the head of Holmes, who put the ball into the back of the net to give Cranbrook a 2-0 lead.

“We work on restarts in every single practice,” said Holmes. “Towards the end of the game, with about five minutes left to go, Kolin played through an incredible ball right to where I always run and he found me and I got a head on it was able to put it on net.”

The goal to give the Cranes a two goal lead was much needed as Cranbrook spent much of the final 10-15 minutes trying to hold off a late push from Notre Dame Prep, which saw a handful of scoring opportunities turned away by keeper Trevor Stormes and the Cranbrook backline as the clock ran down.

Notre Dame Prep head coach Ryan Elchuck said he felt that the score doesn’t quite show how closely contested Monday’s match was, but the difference was simply that Cranbrook was able to capitalize on its opportunities.

“I would agree that the score line wasn’t indicative of how the game was played,” he said. “Both teams were very evenly matched and that can be expected from two teams that know each other as well as we do. We’ve seen each other twice in the league throughout the course of the year. At the end of the day, both teams worked really hard, both teams were prepared and both teams had chances, but they (Cranbrook) were able to make good of two of theirs and we were unable to make good of the ones that we had and that’s the way it goes in the playoffs.”

The first goal of the game came early in the first half when junior Ken Kernen sent a picture perfect pass behind the Notre Dame Prep defense to Clark who made a run and took control of the ball and found the back of the net to give the Cranes a 1-0 lead.

O’Kulich credited the pass Kernen made to get the ball behind the defense and the finish by Clark to give his team an early advantage.

“It was a gorgeous ball by Kenny Kernen,” he said. “He sent a gorgeous ball over the defense and Clark made a great run through and just seized the opportunity, but it all started with Kenny Kernins and then Kolin made a great finish.”

Cranbrook will face Goodrich, which topped Flint Kearsley on Monday, in the district semifinals on Wednesday at Auburn Hills Avondale at 7:00 pm.