Gene Pulice got his point across to his Novi Detroit Catholic Central soccer players the year he took over the program.
This is his fourth year as the school’s coach. In Year 1 when his authority was challenged, he immediately handled the situation.
“My first year I had a senior captain who didn’t buy in and blew me up on Facebook,” Pulice said. “I took him off the team right then and there. He was done. … I told him if we made it past the first round of the districts that I’d let him back in. He felt that he didn’t want to, and he never did come back in.”
That set the tone, and now those who have stayed want to be champions.
After a 2-0 victory Tuesday on goals by junior forward Justin Savona and freshman Charles Trevisan, the Shamrocks are ranked No. 1 in Division 1 with a 10-0-1 record.
They call themselves Team 37, a nod to the 37 years of CC soccer, and they’d like nothing more than to bring home a soccer state title to a school dominated by football and wrestling titles.
Since Pulice took over, the school has won a district championship, reached a regional final, finished runner-up in the Catholic League and won the Catholic League title.
He has used his 28 years of coaching experience and 16 years in the elite Wolves and Hawks programs to mold the Shamrocks into a title contender.
“These are all things that haven’t happened in the last 12 years,” Pulice said. “We hadn’t won the Catholic League in the last 22 years. Last year we won it with guys who bought in.”
They’ve scored 42 goals and allowed just five, but Pulice doesn’t describe his team as defensive-minded.
“We’re well-rounded,” he said. “Forty-two goals in 10 games, that’s not so bad. We do have a very good defensive game.
“What I’ve done in the past four years is, I’ve built a program around respect, goodness, discipline and knowledge. It starts with respecting your teammates, respecting yourself, respecting your institution and respecting the game. From there we got into soccer tactics and technical stuff.”
Players being accountable and a rigorous training regime has reshaped the program.
“Once everybody bought into my training regime, then we could work on our technical and tactical abilities,” he said. “We train rigorously. We have very deliberate training sessions. They aren’t based on the game before. They’re based on the fundamentals of the game.”
Savona said: “We’ve bonded as a team, and we’ve bought into what Coach has been preaching to us. He’s changing our formations out there, and we buy into what he’s telling us. We go along with what he says because he has experience. We know he’s going to be able to lead us through whatever we’re facing.
“Our athletic director, Aaron Babicz, calls us smash-mouth soccer. We’re really gathering attention from all of our student body. It’s gaining respect, and everybody believes we can win a state championship. I think this year is the best year we can do it. There’s a lot of support right now. It’s not just football anymore.”
Trevisan is an Olympic Development Program participant and one of the future stars of the program.
“I think we are a well-rounded team,” he said. “You can’t score 42 goals if you’re solely a defensive team. It took me a little bit to get used to the team and figure everything out. I think 10 games in I’m figuring out what we do here at Catholic Central. One of the things we do best is support each other, and the school supports the soccer program.”
Added Pulice: “There are no state soccer banners in our gym. We’d like to hang one this year and make history.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com.