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Cranbrook's Ken Kernen (9) and Lake Shore's Mike DeMara (16) battle for the ball. (Ray J. Skowronek)
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SOCCER: Lake Shore moves on to regional finals with win over Cranbrook VIDEO
Lake Shore's Mike DeMara (16) takes a kick to the head during first half action against Cranbrook. (Ray J. Skowronek)
Lake Shore's Sam Ambe (2) battles Cranbrook's John Whiting (10). (Ray J. Skowronek)
Lake Shore's goalie Luke Warrick grabs the ball out of the air on a corner kick as Cranbrook's Ken Kernen (9) falls on top of Lake Shore's Matt Swarthout (9).
If Luke Warrick was rusty after missing nearly the entire season with a lacerated kidney, it certainly didn't show when the Lake Shore goalkeeper returned to action in the state Division 2 regional semifinal Wednesday.
Warrick, with plenty of help from his defensive-minded teammates, turned away several excellent scoring chances by Cranbrook to edge the Cranes 1-0, making the goal stand up that midfielder Joey Podsiadly scored during the fourth minute of the contest.
"The defense saved my life twice -- no, more than that -- they saved it a lot," Warrick said. "I wouldn't want anybody else in front of me. That's the team I want in front of me every time I play."
The victory moved the Shorians into the regional championship game at Lake Shore Friday at 6 p.m. against Trenton, which defeated Hamtramck 5-2.
Warrick said that it was difficult standing on the sidelines for most of the season, but now that he's back, the injury, which was sustained when he landed on his back in practice, is ancient history.
"It felt amazing to be back," Warrick said. "We won. There's no other feeling in the world like it."
His teammates were glad to see him back in the net, although Kyle Kretschmer did a fine job of filling in while Warrick was gone.
"Luke is a great keeper," said Podsiadly. "He's been our starter for four years. It's great to know he's healthy again and able to play for us and work hard like he always does."
Shorians coach Dave Lount didn't hesitate in getting Warrick back in his familiar surroundings.
"He said, 'I'm ready for this,' and he stepped up like he's done in the past for us," Lount said. "This is the third time he's won a regional game for us."
The Shorians' task became harder when a Lake Shore player was given a red card with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. That meant the Shorians had to play a man short for the rest of the game.
"You don't really prepare for something like that," Lount said. "In practice you play with one man down, two men down and try to maintain possession and hold the ball but it was really tough today.
"We just held on. It was unlucky we got the card but we got lucky on some of their missed shots. Our defense was great -- Matt Swarthout, Mike Braspenninckx, Mike DeMara was awesome and freshman Lukas Mackenzie did a great job."
Cranbrook had numerous chances to score, especially at the start of the second half when the Cranes were able to revise their attack after the break.
"It's not something we were expecting," Podsiadly said of going a man down. "We had to work defensively, look for opportunities up top and work together to get the ball and score on an opening.
"(Cranbrook) was bigger than us, so we just worked hard, got our head on the ball and cleared it out. We work together, all 13 seniors, and play hard as a team."
Lount felt confident when Podsiadly scored early in the game.
"We have the talent to put the ball in the net," Lount said. "If we had the full number of guys for the whole game we could have done more damage, but we couldn't get numbers up and guys were tired from defending the whole time. They were gassed at the end.
"We've had games where we dominated but just missed the net or missed shots and you could see their confidence go down. Getting one in early, I was hoping we'd get more, but we didn't have the chances."
Podsiadly's goal came after a scramble in the middle of the field.
"Josh (Scott) luckily tipped it to me, I saw the opening and took the shot," Podsiadly said. "I'm just glad it went in."
The victory provided some sweet revenge for Lake Shore, which lost 1-0 to Cranbrook in the regional final last season.
"That was a heartbreaker," Warrick said. "It has been in the back of our minds all the way leading up to this."
"It's a relief, a weight off our shoulders," he said. "This means we're improving as a team and we look to improve even more throughout the playoffs."
Lake Shore improved to 17-4-1 overall. Cranbrook ended its season with a 7-3-1 mark.
Last Updated: 10/23/2013 9:42:16 PM EST