Roennecke’s feet help net Roeper’s 1st state title

Roennecke’s feet help net Roeper’s 1st state title

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Roennecke’s feet help net Roeper’s 1st state title

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You are ambidextrous when you can throw and do a bunch of other things with your right and left hands. Simon Roennecke knows that.

But what do you call it when you can kick with your left foot just as well as you can kick with your right foot?

“I don’t know that one,” the Bloomfield Hills Roeper sophomore said.

Well, he should — because his ability to be ambidextrous with his feet, so to speak, is why Roeper finally owns a state championship.

Roennecke scored four goals the hard way — two with his right foot and two with his left — as Roeper defeated Grand Rapids Covenant, 4-2, Saturday in the Division 4 boys soccer final, claiming the school’s first state title in any sport.

Being able to use both feet as well as Roennecke does is no accident. It comes from hours of practice.

“During the summer, especially,” Roennecke said. “I like to make a goal with my left foot as much as possible to strengthen it as much as possible.”

This has been a magical season for Roeper. Even its lone loss — 7-6 to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in overtime — proved invaluable. It led coach Ed Sack to move midfielder Michael Matthews to sweeper and shore up the defense.

Although Matthews is an excellent offensive force, when you have Roennecke and senior Max Whipple up front, you can afford to give up something in the midfield. Whipple led Roeper and Oakland County with 46 goals and 21 assists, and Roennecke wasn’t far behind with 40 goals and 36 assists.

“A lot of it did come from Max assisting me, and he drew a lot of attention off of me,” Roennecke said. “When you have two goal scorers up top, that’s pretty hard to deal with as a defense.”

Roennecke was impossible for Covenant to deal with in tying the state record for goals in a championship game.

“From the beginning of that game, I felt that anytime I got the ball I could make something happen,” he said. “It was one of those games that I just wanted the ball at my feet at all time.”

After 20 years at Roeper, not many things surprise Sack, but he was in awe of Roennecke’s performance — especially his accuracy, nailing each goal just inside the post.

“He took advantage of every opportunity that he received the ball,” Sack said. “On film you can see he’s got three guys within 3 feet of him every time he receives the ball, so it was three-on-one going to the goal every time.”

And every time the result was the same: Goooooooo-aaaaalllllllll!!!

“They were swarming me for the majority of the game,” Roennecke said. “Some of it was just close touches on the ball and another part was speed. It was just freeing up enough space to get a shot off. You only need a foot to get a shot off, really.”

By the way, it didn’t matter which foot, which is why Roeper has a state championship and why the school is in a state of euphoria this week.

“It’s kind of been a buzz since we won it,” Roennecke said. “A lot of teachers are saying congratulations and a lot of kids went to the game and are talking about it. It’s pretty cool.”

Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or mmccabe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.

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