DCC Wins Matchup of 1st-Time Finalists

November 4, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

ROCHESTER HILLS – Ryan Pierson entered the Division 1 Boys Soccer Final having scored 31 goals already on the season for Detroit Catholic Central.

However, number 32 turned out to not only be more meaningful than the other 31 combined, but the most important goal of the entire season.

With 6:49 remaining, Pierson stepped up to the line and knocked in a penalty kick for what turned out to be the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Catholic Central win over Walled Lake Central in a title-game matchup that featured two programs playing in the championship game for the first time.

For all the MHSAA championships in other sports the decorated Catholic Central athletic program has accumulated, it now has a soccer title to add to the trophy case.

“It’s 39 years in the making,” Catholic Central head coach Gene Pulice said. “Our first one is definitely historic and impactful. To be the first coach to lead a team to it, it’s impactful for sure.”

Pierson created the scoring chance himself after being fouled in the box by a Walled Lake Central defender.

He got a loose ball on the edge of the right side of the penalty area and took on two defenders as he dribbled toward the goal.

Pierson put the ball through the legs of one defender to get past him and then was taken down by the other, and the official didn’t hesitate to call the foul.

Once he stepped to the ball, Pierson had some familiarity with Walled Lake Central goalie Brian Ostepanko, who made three saves during a shootout in a Regional Semifinal win over Rochester.

“I have played with him a couple of times,” Pierson said. “I played with him this past season on a showcase team. He is a solid keeper and had a great season.

“I was pretty confident. I have a system that works, and I think it worked out. I was pretty confident I was going to the (right) side, and he guessed the other way.”

An understandably somber Walled Lake Central head coach Joel Sharpe said he had no issue with the foul call.

“I’m not going to argue that,” Sharpe said. “It looked like it. When you dive in and you put someone in the box the caliber of a player Pierson is, bad things are going to happen.”

Before Pierson’s goal, the game was a defensive struggle with few quality scoring chances; it seemed destined for a shootout.

With about 30 minutes remaining, Catholic Central (21-2-4) did start to tilt the field in its favor and carried the play, collecting eight shots and five corner kicks during the second half alone.

“We had a couple of guys that we changed around a little bit, but we executed the game plan better,” Pulice said. “We had the same formation, but we executed our game plan better. I thought myself it was a matter of time before Ryan got pulled down in the box. They were on him all game. It’s one of those things where you are trying to stick to your game plan and know it will work.”

Not helping the cause for Walled Lake Central (22-2-2) was a game-ending knee injury to senior defender and captain Karl Tavadia with 33 minutes to play.

Tavadia was the main player marking Pierson up to that point, and Sharpe said he had to move a forward back to help defend Pierson.

Walled Lake Central will bemoan not only its luck with Tavadia getting hurt, but also a glorious scoring chance that came up empty in the final minute of the first half.

With the half winding down, a ball was served into the Catholic Central box and deflected to the foot of a Walled Lake Central player who was right in front of the goal line with an open net in front of him.

But the volley went straight up in the air, hit the crossbar and landed on the goal line to allow Catholic Central enough time to recover defensively.

“Their hearts are breaking, and no matter how good of a season this is and how great of an accomplishment it was to get to the Finals, it’s never easy to console these guys for everything they put into it,” Sharpe said.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central’s Ryan Pierson celebrates connecting on a penalty kick that ended up as the Division 1 Final’s only goal. (Middle) The Shamrocks were able to stop this scoring attempt by Walled Lake Central’s Ray Daniels (8).

Be the Referee: Soccer Offside

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 4, 2024

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Offside - Listen

We have an offside situation in soccer to talk about today. The offense sends a long pass from their own half of the field to a teammate way down at the defensive team’s 18-yard line … but she’s offside.

The assistant referee raises her flag and the referee blows her whistle for offside, and an indirect free kick is given to the defense. Where do they take the kick from?

  • Is it the spot where the offside player was when the assistant referee raised her flag?
  • The spot where the ball was when play was stopped?
  • The point of the infraction?
  • Or the spot from where the ball was originally passed?

If you said “at the point of the infraction” you are correct. In this case, the defense gets an indirect free kick where the offside occurred.

Previous Editions

May 28: Appeal Play - Listen
May 21: Lacrosse Foul in Critical Scoring Area - Listen
May 14: Avoiding the Tag - Listen
May 7: Baseball Pitch Count - Listen
April 30: Boys Lacrosse Helmets - Listen
April 23: Softball Interference - Listen
April 16: Soccer Red Card - Listen
April 9: Batted Baseball Hits Runner - Listen
March 12: Basketball Replay - Listen
March 5: Hockey Officials - Listen
Feb. 27: Less Than 5 - Listen
Feb. 20: Air Ball - Listen
Feb. 13: Hockey Penalties - Listen
Jan. 30: Wrestling Tiebreakers - Listen
Jan. 23: Wrestling Technology - Listen
Jan. 9: 3 Seconds - Listen
Dec. 19: Unsuspecting Hockey Hits - Listen
Dec. 12: No More One-And-Ones - Listen
Nov. 21: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 14: Volleyball Unplayable Areas - Listen
Nov. 7: Pass/Kick Off Crossbar - Listen
Oct. 31: Cross Country Interference - Listen
Oct. 24: Soccer Overtime - Listen
Oct. 17: Tennis Spin - Listen
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen

(Photo by Gary Shook.)