Stoney Creek defeats Clarkston, 3-1, advances to district final
Rochester Hills - Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Clarkston are almost like relatives on the soccer pitch. They seemingly play each other multiple times each season and they know the strengths and weaknesses of each other so well.
After splitting during the regular season, the two Oakland Activities Association Red Division rivals settled the final score on Wednesday in a Division 1 district semifinal at Rochester Adams.
Stoney Creek scored a goal in the fourth minute, tacked on two more second half goals and hung on for a 3-1 victory.
The Cougars, who lost to Clarkston in a non-league game back in August then defeated the Wolves in a Red Division contest just last week, advance to Saturday’s 2 p.m. district final against city rival Rochester.
In the first game Rochester (12-3-5) defeated Lake Orion, 2-1.
“It’s hard to play a team three times because you know each other so well,” said Stoney Creek coach Adam Bican, who used to be the head coach at Clarkston. “You know what to expect. They have some special players. It all goes down to finishing opportunities and were fortunate enough to get one on them early.”
Junior Michael Melaragni scored his Oakland County-leading 27th goal of the season just 3:05 into the contest, tapping home a close-range shot following a cross from senior Pablo Kulyckyj. The early goal gave the Cougars plenty of momentum.
“You wouldn’t know how many goals he has because he is actually so unselfish, so humble,” said Bican of Melaragni. “He draws so much attention and that opens up other players. He does a good job giving up the ball, too.”
Stoney Creek (15-3-4) pushed the lead to 2-0 with 26:51 to play in the second half when sophomore Adam Johns volleyed home a cross from sophomore Alex Vitale.
The Cougars pushed the lead up to 3-0 with 23:12 left when Melaragni knocked home his 28th tally on a goal-mouth scramble.
Clarkston (9-8-3), which upset Rochester Adams in Monday’s district opener, cut into the lead with 15:06 remaining when senior Jacob Moreno converted a penalty kick.
“I think we left a lot out on the field in Monday’s (upset),” admitted Clarkston coach Curtis Payment. “We played well in stretches, but Stoney Creek is a very good team, well coached, with a lot of very good players. The better team won tonight. Stoney Creek just played better.”
Stoney Creek outshot Clarkston, 11-6, including 8-5 with shots on frame. Chase Bogedin made four saves for the win between the pipes.
Stoney Creek will attempt to defeat Rochester for the third time this season.
“Now we have another team that we’re playing for the third time this season,” noted Bican. “That will be difficult. Rochester, like everyone else (in our league), has some very good players. I expect a close game with them.”