By Coach Lenny Dale, Soccer Coach, Athletic Director, and Phys. Ed. Teacher
The Emerson middle school soccer team wrapped up their season Saturday as they hosted the AAIAA tournament. Top seed by virtue of their perfect regular season record, Emerson had a bye Friday, and started Saturday’s play against Washtenaw Christian, winners Friday against Spiritus Sanctus Plymouth. The Eagles prevailed, 4-1, on goals from Zack Kubisiak, Gabe Kellman, Michael Michaliska and Terence Ashforth. The win notwithstanding, Emerson’s play was ragged in the second half, lacking the quickness and intensity shown in the final games of the regular season.
Still, the win put the Eagles in the championship game, against 2-seed Ann Arbor Christian, who were there after edging Steiner School. Prior to the championship, Steiner battled to 3rd place, knocking off SSP and WCA back to back.
The final was as a final should be – tense, and hard fought. Gabe scored first, but AACS tied the scored before the half. Gabe scored twice more in the second half, but, just as Emerson might have been able to feel they were safely ahead, or perhaps because of it, AACS struck back twice to tie the score. The Eagles had a few chances that very narrowly missed. One, on a scramble in the AACS crease, was covered by the keeper just before it crossed the line. Another, a beautifully lofted pass from Gabe to Zack, who ran onto it and chipped it, on the bounce, over the keeper, but inches wide right.
Tied 3-3, the game went to over-time. The best chance came when Zack fed a wonderful through ball to Gabe, who ran onto it and tapped it past the on-coming keeper, but a brilliant play by an AACS defender saw it swept away inches from crossing the line.
After overtime came a shootout. Each team put forward 5 shooters, and each team switched to a new keeper. Emerson shot first, scored, Gabe saved the first AACS shot, and Emerson went in to the last round of the 5 shots ahead 1, but AACS saved the last Emerson shot and then scored to tie, moving to a sudden death shootout. Zack, just like the first time around, calmly and cleanly scored again, and then Gabe saved the next AACS shot and it was over. It goes in the books as a 4-3 win, with Emerson completing an undefeated, untied season