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Roeper tops Greenhills for a third time, advances to regional final

Softball   | Jeff Dullack

Roeper tops Greenhills for a third time, advances to regional final

Allen Park – Excuse the at times overused cliché, but just about any coach will tell you that beating a team three times in one season is a very difficult task.

And on Wednesday afternoon, that was what Birmingham Roeper was tasked with when it faced Ann Arbor Greenhills, who the Roughriders had beaten twice before in 2014, in the regional semifinals at Allen Park Inter-City Baptist.

After beating Greenhills by three and later two goals earlier this season, Roeper, behind a goal off of a corner kick by Simon Roennecke, managed to pull out a third win over Greenhills, ousting the Gryphons with a 1-0 win.

Roeper now advances to the regional final where it will face Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett on Saturday afternoon, back at Inter-City Baptist.

Roeper head coach Ed Sack said that aside from the first game his team played against Greenhills, a 4-1 win, the games between the two teams have been tightly contested and was obviously pleased to come out with the win on Wednesday.

“I think that in the first game, they weren’t as prepared as they usually are and after that, I think they were a top 10 team in the state,” he said. “The last time we played them, we won 2-0 and only had five or six shots and I don’t know what we had today, but five or six shots probably. They’re a good team and that’s a quality win for us.”

With less than three minutes left to play in the first half, Roennecke lined up for a free kick and sent the ball toward the goal, but the ball never found a Roeper player, but rather made its way past the Greenhills keeper and into the back of the net, giving the Roughriders a 1-0 advantage heading to halftime.

“Someone took a throw and it deflected out wide for the corner,” Roennecke said. “So I crossed it in, aiming for the goalie and Nate Lee shielded the keeper and the ball trickled over the line.”

Shortly before Roennecke’s goal, there was an injury timeout after a collision between a pair of Greenhills players, but during that timeout, Sack noted that he emphasized to his team to try and create set pieces and not long after, the Roughriders got just that on Roennecke’s corner, where they were able to capitalize.

“We made it a point during the injury timeout emphasize using the wings and getting corner kicks and long throws,” he said. “We got about eight or nine different set pieces and that one happened to work and it’s about creating chaos in the six and having people in certain spots. It’s a lot of luck and a lot of guts and effort.”

In the second half, Roeper had a handful of good opportunities to extend its lead, including a scoring chance with 16:50 left to play when Roennecke took aim at a wide open net, but Greenhills keeper Brendan Spencer made a diving save to keep the ball out of the net and the deficit at just 1-0 still for Greenhills.

Greenhills head coach Lucian Popescu said his junior keeper made several big saves in the second half to keep his team in the game and expects Spencer to be a crucial part of next year’s team.

“He had some outstanding plays in the second half,” he said. “He’s definitely a goalkeeper with potential and he’s improved over the past two years and he continues to get better and better.”

Greenhills would have a couple of chances later in the game, but the backline of Roeper, along with keeper, Calvin Lind managed to turn away the Gryphons to preserve the win.