TROY – One down, one to go.
The Troy boys lacrosse team picked up an 11-8 win over Birmingham Unified on Thursday, setting up a match with Clarkston on Saturday for the OAA Red championship.
“Our focus this week was to get two, (Birmingham Unified) first, then Clarkston,” Troy coach Nate Reynolds said. “Two years ago we took one from Birmingham and last year they got us, so it is a little bit of revenge. It is always nice to beat a Birmingham team, so I am real proud of our guys. It was a great win.”
Troy (13-3, 6-0 OAA Red) was scheduled to face Clarkston on Monday, but storms postponed the game until Saturday. In order for that game to still have the OAA title at stake, the Colts needed to get past Birmingham (10-7, 5-2), which lost to Clarkston in its only OAA defeat.
“I wanted to play two really solid teams at the end of the season. These games are essentially playoff games because of the caliber of opponents,” Reynolds said. “It is a great win for us and great momentum for us heading into Saturday’s game.”
The Colts were able to get the win thanks to holding the Bulldogs scoreless in the second half after trailing 8-6. Troy kept Birmingham off the board thanks to the play of goalie Burgess Young, who made 16 saves in the contest.
“Burgess played outstanding in the second half,” Reynolds said. “He made saves that were really big and seemed to bring the team together. We challenged him at halftime and he took the challenge and stepped up for the team.”
Troy tied the game at 8-8 in the third on goals from Kyle Fietsam and David Fracassa. In the fourth, the eventual game-winning goal came with 4:48 to play as Justice Bigelow found the net with Troy a man up.
Jay Darish added an insurance goal a minute later after stealing a clearing pass and Jake Parry would tack on the final goal with three minutes to play.
“I think we stopped playing our game,” Birmingham Unified coach Burton Engel said. “We had difficulty clearing the ball and moving up field effectively. We had a couple of poor decisions cost us some goals in transition because of it.”
The game was very competitive in the first half, as it was tied four different times, with neither team leading by more than two scores.
The big momentum swing in the half came late in the second period as Birmingham scored four goals in the final 2:15 of play to take the 8-6 lead at the break.
“That is the kind of lacrosse we are looking to play,” Engel said of the surge in the second period. “At that time I had a lot of confidence that the kids were going to play their game. If we would have continued to play that way, I think we had a great chance to win.”
Michael Kemper led Birmingham Unified with three goals while Nick Vestevich, Austin Ahlgren, Charlie Hermes, Charlie Schiefer and Emmett Green each netted one.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday when they close regular season play at Ann Arbor Skyline.
“I am still hopeful that if we remedy a few of our mistakes, we can find our ‘A’ game,” Engel said.
Parry finished with three goals to lead Troy while Bigelow, Fracassa and Jack Percy each scored two. Fiestsam and Darish finished with one goal while Darish had three assists.
The Colts now focus on Saturday’s game, as they will look to end the Wolves’ dominance in the OAA.
“We need to play four quarters,” Reynolds said of playing Clarkston. “We had a bad second quarter and Clarkston is a team that is really going to take advantage of that. Playing a full game on Saturday will get us a win.”
Saturday’s game will be at 9 a.m. at Troy High School.