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BOYS SOCCER: Berklich's two goals lift Grand Blanc past Walled Lake Northern WITH TOUT VIDEOS

COMMERCE – Entering Monday night’s KLAA Lakes Conference championship game against Walled Lake Northern, Grand Blanc wasn’t prepared to suffer the same defeat it suffered the last time the Bobcats faced Northern in the Lakes title game.

Grand Blanc (13-0-3), behind a pair of goals coming from Nicholas Berklich took an early lead and never looked back as the Bobcats held off Northern (12-4-2) for a 2-0 win in a rematch of the 2011 KLAA Lakes Conference title game.

Grand Blanc head coach Greg Kehler said that he was pleased with his team’s play and that the Bobcats now have a chance to win the association title and added that Berklich’s early goal helped set the tone going forward on Monday night.

“It’s the best, it gives us a chance to play for the association title, which is for the best out of the 24 teams and that says a lot,” he said. “We were here a couple of years ago and we beat Northern and it’s a great program that Chris has and they’re always tough. We got that early goal and it really set us off and I think it set the tone for us and we were able to control the ball and possess it.”

Less than two minutes into the game, Grand Blanc got on the board first as Ali Mukhtar sent a cross into the middle of the box where Berklich was able to send the ball into the back of the net giving the Bobcats an early advantage.

Berklich noted that it was big for his team to take an early lead on Monday night while also crediting Mukhtar’s pass into the box to set up his goal.

“It’s always good to get up early,” he said. “Ali drove down the line and crossed it and I was able to just put it in the net. It was a good goal.”

Coming out of halftime facing a 1-0 deficit, Northern found a couple of scoring opportunities in the early stages of the half, but were turned away by the Grand Blanc defense and keeper Jacob Schroer, who made five stops on the night.

With just under 30 minutes left to play in the game, Berklich notched his second goal of the night as he sent a free kick goal into the top right corner of the net, giving the Bobcats the insurance goal they were looking for and a 2-0 lead.

“I think all year long, we’ve been getting good goaltending and our defenders have played really well,” Kehler said. “We’ve given up two goals this year and both of them have been PK’s, so we’re defending really well and we’re controlling the ball in the midfield and we’re scoring some timely goals in the final third of the game.”

In the final 20 minutes of the game, Northern once again found some scoring chances in the Grand Blanc end, coming close to scoring on a header late in the game and had other success working its offense in the late stages.

Northern head coach Chris Stevanovic said that while his team did have several chances throughout the night, the early goal for Grand Blanc changed the tone of the game early on and made it difficult for Northern to try and come back against one of the state’s top five teams.

“It was huge, we talked about it after the game and Grand Blanc made the state finals last year for a reason and they’re a top five team in the state for a reason and they have not lost for a reason,” he said. “When you play a good team like that and you go down 1-0 early, it’s very difficult team for a team like us to upset them. We had tons of chances, but their goalkeeper played well and that changed the whole tone.”

Last Updated: 10/8/2013 6:01:47 AM EST

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