Okemos won its first CAAC Blue boys soccer championship since 2007 with a convincing 2-0 home win over East Lansing on Thursday.
The Chiefs (10-3-3 overall, 7-0 CAAC Blue) ended five years of frustration in just over five minutes, scoring two goals in the first 5:22 of the contest and making them stand up the rest of the way.
“I have five or six seniors who have been on the varsity since they were freshmen,” Okemos coach Brian Guggemos said. “Over the years, it’s seemed like whatever could go wrong, did go wrong, so I’m just so happy for the seniors.”
Carson Covell and Dean Bloembergen scored the Okemos goals just over a minute apart, both resulting from some casual defending in the Trojan penalty area.
Bloembergen started the play that led to the first goal, feeding Josh Robison, who was open near the penalty spot. Robison turned, drew two defenders to him and slipped the ball to a more wide open Covell, whose calm first-time finish gave East Lansing keeper Kellon Johnston-Roper no chance.
Okemos doubled their lead 1:03 later when the Trojans (12-2-3, 5-1-1) failed to clear the ball out of their own goal mouth. Bloembergen plucked the ball out of the air with a deft first touch, and blasted it home with the second from about 10 yards out to make the score 2-0 with 34:38 left in the first half.
The stunned Trojans were kept on the back foot for the rest of the half, and needed two impressive saves by Johnston-Roper in the next 10 minutes to keep from falling even further behind.
“Okemos came out ready to play,” East Lansing coach Nick Archer said. “There was a critical five minutes of time in the game, and we were slow waking up today.”
The Trojans seemed to get their feet under them after the break, and were able to possess the ball in the Okemos half, but created very few real scoring chances. Chiefs keeper and senior captain Landon Collier had little to do the entire game, and was not called upon to make a single save in the league championship contest.
“It’s a great feeling, especially to do it with these guys that I’ve been playing with for the entirety of four years,” Collier said. “We have a lot more to do and a lot more to go through, but it’s awesome, it really is.”
East Lansing’s best scoring chance of the game came with about 14 minutes left in the second half, when Nick Wheeler let a shot go from the top of the Okemos box, saw it take a deflection and sail inches high of the bar. On the ensuing corner kick, Trevor Early had an open header at the far post, but it too barely missed the mark, and the Chiefs claimed the title.
“It means a lot,” Robison said. “I spend every day in class with these kids, I spend every day after school with these kids (in practice), and it means more than anything to win a league championship with them.”