By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Damian Huffer reflected on the spring season for Clarkston Girls Varsity Soccer.
The head coach said the team was in every single game, finishing with an overall record 10-6-1 with OAA White league record 4-2-1.
Huffer added an exception to being in every single game was the season opener against Troy Athens on March 23 where they were still figuring out positions.
“They created lots of chances offensively,” he said. “Some of the goals, some of the play were really good to see. Overall the effort and application from the girls was fantastic. Again just really lucky to coach such a great group of kids.”
The Wolves finished the season in a 4-3 overtime loss to Oxford in the first round of the MHSAA Division 1 Girls Soccer District 5 playoffs, May 27.
“It just devastated the girls,” Huffer said. “They put so much into that game and the effort and the chances they created. They were off to a good start with a 1-0 lead. It was a good move with a good finish from Emma Bradley after a great pass from Ava Bechtell.
“We spoke about we didn’t give away any needless missed free kicks in dangerous areas for obvious reasons with No. 24, Carly Boyd, and also set pieces.”
Junior Emerson Wood put the Wolves back into the lead with 30:13 left in the half. Oxford tied the game, 2-2 with seven minutes left in regulated time.
Junior Micaela Hohlbein brought the Wolves up 3-2 off her shot with 5:35 to go from Wood. The Wildcats tied the game seconds later off a quick goal. The game went into two overtimes ending with Boyd scoring less than two minutes into the first overtime.
“It was just really heartbreaking and devastating for the girls,” Huffer said. “Boyd who has had a really great season and a bit of a nemesis for us came out with a strike to the top corner to make it 4-3. The season and the amount of work they put into it and the quality of some of their performances, I just thought we were going to have more of a run. It’s just a tough way.”
The Wolves graduated four seniors – Natalie Adcock, Sierra Allen, Emmy Horne and Annabelle Yeloushan.
“Every year you are nothing but impressed about what each of these group of seniors bring to the table,” said Huffer. “Three of the four were captains. They took a role and a really positive step in just leading the team. The organization during the winter sessions and the conditioning. I left them to organize it all. They took it on board and were excellent. The togetherness they harnessed was excellent.
“It was a close group of kids and they really worked hard for each other,” Huffer continued. “Even on the field the performances were exceptional. Each year I say it, but the captains leave a legacy that’s going to be hard to follow. I wish them nothing but the best. All four of the girls have been fantastic. They will always be missed and welcomed back with open arms.”
Huffer shared with losing only a few seniors they have a lot returning players as well as incoming underclassmen joining the team.
“The team should be stronger next year,” Huffer said. “It’s exciting to look forward to but it’s going to take some time to get over the manner of that defeat.”
He added a highlight is the returners know they are doing a lot of things right.
“They will realize in the grand scheme of thing it was a good season,” Huffer said. “ One thing is in some of the games it tells them they can play with anybody locally and anybody in Michigan, to be honest with you. They have a lot of depth as well. A lot of the core group which are starters will be going into their third year or fourth year as players.”
He shared they plan to move the team up to the OAA Red division in the league.
“In order to beat the best, you need to play the best. I am trying to challenge the girls consistently,” Huffer said. “You learn a lot more about adversity and your players then you do in a cake walk. These girls respond to a challenge brilliantly. Trying to load the schedule and hopefully then we will have a decent run in playoffs.”
By Wendi Reardon Price