Okemos put together a championship performance at the right time, claiming the unofficial title of best boys soccer team in the area with an astounding 6-0 win over Mason in the CAAC Gold Cup Final on Thursday.
The battle between the two rivals, both ranked in the top 10 in the state, was one-sided virtually from the start. Josh Robison scored two goals and Dean Bloembergen had three assists for the Chiefs, who handed the Bulldogs their first shutout loss of the season.
Okemos is ranked No. 7 in Division 1, while Mason is ranked fifth in Division 2.
“I didn’t expect this,” Okemos coach Brian Guggemos said. “In fact, I told (Mason coach) Nick (Binder) before the game, ‘It’s going to (penalty kicks), you know that, right?’ “
Indeed, Okemos (13-3-3) defeated Mason (16-3-1) in penalty kicks in the first Cup final in 2007, but this year’s game could not have been more different. The Chiefs absorbed some early pressure from the Bulldogs, but after scoring the first goal with 28:06 left in the first half, the game was never in doubt.
Carson Covell scored that opener, taking a pass by Bloembergen from the left wing that eluded Mason goalie Josh Flamme and tapped it into an open net.
Bloembergen set up the second Okemos goal from the right wing, finding Robison wide open in front of the Bulldog net. Robison’s first-time finish made the score 2-0 at the half.
“We left two guys wide open in front of the goal,” Binder said. “Sometimes those things happen and they miss, but they buried them both and we didn’t react very well.”
The Chiefs blew the game open with four goals after the break, starting just more than six minutes into the half, when Bloembergen again found Robison virtually unmarked in front, and again the first-time finish gave Flamme no chance.
“We’ve worked really hard for this moment,” Bloembergen said. “It seemed like the game got easier as we started to relax and got the first couple of goals.”
Guggemos said that a slight tactical change may have been responsible for the space that his players enjoyed throughout the contest.
“We have good enough players that we can slow it down and let the game come to us,” he said. “All of a sudden Josh is in space and Dean is in space, and part of that was that we kept the ball and didn’t go forward so fast.
“It draws them out, and all of sudden, you have Josh 1-v-1 with the goalie.”
Okemos made the score 4-0 with 30:23 left in the game when Covell found Soham Mishra unmarked at the penalty spot for another easy first-time finish.
Colin Patrick added another for the Chieftains with 15:21 on the clock, when he was sent clean through on goal by Waleed Yassine, and a penalty kick with 4:45 left by Sean Sorenson-Abbot completed the scoring.
“It wasn’t that (Mason) played poorly,” Guggemos said. “I think we rose to the occasion. We’ve played in a couple of really big games, and we’ve played really well in them.”