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BOYS SOCCER: Royal Oak wins OAA Blue outright with win over North Farmington

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Soccer - Boys - 10/8/2013 

Royal Oak 3
North Farmington 2
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ROYAL OAK – The Royal Oak Ravens won the outright OAA Blue title with a 3-2 win over the North Farmington Raiders on Tuesday night.

“It’s always good when you put everything together. You get results, and that’s kind of what happened today and throughout the season,” Ravens head coach Colby Cunningham said.

This season marks a major turnaround from last year when Royal Oak finished winless in OAA White and won just three games all year. “My thing from the start was creating that team,” Cunningham said. “Bringing everyone together and making that team that works together. That was our biggest issue from the beginning, and the boys have come together and played really, really well together over the past few months.”

Bailey Harris got the game winner, his second of the game, with 7:43 to play when he got on the end of Joey Dokho’s free kick and tapped it in amid a crowd of players in front of the Raiders’ goal. Harris’s goal capped a frenzied second half that saw the Raiders come from behind twice to tie the game after trailing 1-0 at halftime.

After a lackluster first half that saw Royal Oak hold North Farmington without a shot on goal, or even a decent scoring change, the Raiders were a different team in the second half, and it showed from the start. Just under 12 minutes into the half, the Raiders tied the game when Luke Karana settled a ball on the right wing near the top of the penalty area and fired a rocket just inside the far post.

Royal Oak answered midway through the half when Zak Balazovic’s cross deflected off Lucas Notarantonio and in front of the net where freshman Thomas Pagen was waiting to tap it in. The Raiders tied it a second time when Karana played a long through ball and Zack Lumley got loose on a break, holding off the defense and beating the charging keeper before scoring into the empty net to tie the game again with 13:51 to play.

“The second half we played much better,” Raiders head coach Michael Horner said. “The second half, especially the last 25 minutes when we started putting bodies on them and really working hard for the ball and started moving the ball a little more quickly, we made things happen. We got some opportunities.”

In the end, the Ravens’ quantity of chances was a bit too much for the Raiders’ quality of finishing as Royal Oak manufactured 14 shots on goal compared to just two for North Farmington.

“I thought they played absolutely fantastic today,” Cunningham said. “It was one of those games where you kind of control the whole game and possession was ours across the board. And then those two mistakes, they countered on them. Against better teams, you make simple mistakes and they punish you. But overall, I was extremely pleased with how they played today.”

With the win, the Ravens win OAA Blue with a perfect 6-0 mark in division play. The Ravens conclude the regular season on Thursday when they host Rochester in their Pink Out charity game. North Farmington finishes 4-2 in OAA Blue. The Raiders host Berkley on Friday as they try to fine tune their game heading into the playoffs.

Last Updated: 10/8/2013 10:32:42 PM EST

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