Royal Oak Tribune
A good game by Griffen is key for Detroit
When Landon Lodato saw teammates racing over to the edge of the grass at Novi Meadows to celebrate with the Novi Detroit Catholic Central faithful in the stands after the game-tying goal, he wanted to figure out a way to do the same thing.
So he used his head.
The senior headed in the goahead goal with 11:03 remaining in Wednesday’s Division 1 semifinal against Mattawan, finishing off a three-goal run that brought the Shamrocks back from a 2- 0 deficit to win 3-2, and sending them on to the D1 championship game.
“It’s just a surreal feeling, to see that many guys come out to support us, with COVID and everything going on, they came here,” Lodato said of the student section. “I really wanted to jump up there and get rowdy and stuff.”
The Shamrocks (12- 0-3) will take on Traverse City West (221-2) in the championship game at Comstock Park on Saturday at noon. The Titans were a 4- 0 winner over Troy Athens in Wednesday’s other D1 semifinal.
Handed its first loss since a 2-1 setback to Portage Central on Sept. 10, Mattawan finishes 14-2-1 after bumping up to D1 this year.
For the Wildcats, it was an odd feeling being up 2- 0 in the first half — and not feeling comfortable, knowing there might be an avalanche coming. There was.
“I don’t know off the top of
my head, but it seems like every game we’re coming back for some type of a dramatic comeback,” CC coach Gene Pulice said, when asked how many times his team had found itself trailing by two goals this season. “I guess we’re comfortable doing it now, right? Not my favorite position to be in. But, next game, we’re not going to be able to come back from goals down, for sure. We took an early two-goal deficit and turned it into a 3-2 victory. The guys pulled together. They take coaching points well. They’re unified and we’re peaking at the right time. We just happen to give up — there’s a 10-minute period that we seem to struggle through.”
The Wildcats jumped out in front just 92 seconds in, when Connor Burkett capitalized on a long pass. Mattawan used another quick strike to go up 2-0 on a goal by Jacob Hippensteel with 14:42 left first half, scoring just 24 seconds after the Shamrocks had an opportunity with a penalty kick at the other end.
Catholic Central would start the comeback with a goal by senior captain Jack Leuker, who buried a second-chance shot after carom off a defender’s leg, putting it in the lower right corner to halve the deficit.
In the second half, it would be a completely different game, as the Shamrocks went on the attack and never relented. And they had the Wildcats on their heels for the entire 40 minutes.
“It takes a while to get into a game. We need to improve on that. Once we get comfortable and get going, it’s just pedal to the metal, non- stop. Push to score. You saw that in the second half — they didn’t have any chances. Our team plays with a lot of fight. We’re family. Pretty tight-knit,” Lodato said. “It is a great feeling. You see them nonstop carrying the ball, not possessing, not playing the game they’re supposed to play. When that gets going, that non-stop attack, it’s exciting — an adrenaline rush — and it leads to goals.”
The momentum swing was palpable.
“That’s kind of how it works for us, right? Once we put the first one in, it’s kind of like a lion that tastes the blood. We just keep digging in, and things just start clicking for us,” Pulice said. “It’s kind of been like that all year long, where if we score early, then the goals just keep coming through the game — boom, boom, boom, boom. Now, as soon as we break that lock open, everybody rushes through the door, it seems like. Our plan is going to be to score early.”
Moscovic got the equalizer with 19:34 left in the game, finishing off a crossing pass, then Chad Ewing launched another crossing pass from the left side that Lodato buried for the gamewinner with 11:03 left.
“You have a great goal from Jack Leakier. Another great goal from Clay Moscovic, and then the game-winner off the header from Landon Lodato. Three fantastic goals that pull us through to the next round here,” Pulice said, noting that the Shamrocks can’t have that same slow start, if they’re going to win their second title in four years on Saturday.
“We can’t be casual. It’s a business trip. We’re going for a business trip. Period. The end. You can’t show up to a business trip unorganized, or not ready to present your (case). We just have to have the mindset that we’re there for one reason, and one reason only. There’s no more Kumbaya — this is for all the money. That’s the message that we have two days to get across.”
“Once we put the first one in, it’s kind of like a lion that tastes the blood. We just keep digging in, and things just start clicking for us.”
— CC coach Gene Pulice