Bloomfield Hills takes program’s first season to brink of state title
TROY — One year ago, these players were rivals.
Linked only by the proximity of their residence, they would battle each other time and time again on the field of play representing Lasher and Andover.
This year, they were teammates, bearing the same colors and the same mission.
On a cool, windy and rainy Saturday afternoon, that mission was nearly completed in a season few will ever forget.
“It was just a fantastic year,” Bloomfield Hills soccer coach Dougie MacAulay said after his squad fell 1-0 to Ann Arbor Skyline in the Division 1 state final at Troy Athens. “We won four trophies this season, the first trophies this program has ever known. There’s a lot to be proud of.”
MacAulay forced a few smiles as he spoke, still noticeably dejected from a game and result that are likely still hard to accept.
The two teams engaged in a defensive struggle, neither allowing nor creating very much offense.
As the second half wound down, overtime seemed more and more likely and somewhat fitting, given how evenly matched the squads were.
But then, on what appeared to be a simple cross through the zone, the ball nicked the hand of a Bloomfield defender.
Skyline was awarded a penalty shot and, with just 19:13 remaining in regulation, scored the game’s lone tally.
“The call should be made when a hand plays the ball, not when a ball plays the hand,” MacAulay said. “That’s not how the official saw it, though. … It’s just tough to have that call determine a state final.”
But to even be here, to even have a shot at the top spot in all of Division 1 was a point of pride for MacAulay.
When tryouts began, these former Knights and Barons were instantly transformed to Black Hawks.
Rivals at one time, they had no choice but to join forces.
“At the beginning, sure, it was a little rough,” said junior Colin Beresford. “It took some time to adjust, but three days into tryouts, we were going out of town for a preseason tournament. It’s not like we had much time.”
Nor would they need it.
In the first official games of the season, Bloomfield swept the Country Day tournament, claiming the school its first athletic trophy.
From there on out, the play only got stronger — the bond between guys, tighter.
“You could just see it happening,” Beresford recalled.
“It was something they had to accept,” MacAulay said of the Lahser and Andover merging. “I think, eventually, this became a situation they were proud of.”
By the end of the regular season, Bloomfield was 10-2-5 and playing its best soccer of the fall.
The playoffs proved to be a roller coaster of emotions and dramatic finishes.
After a 4-1 win against Groves in the district opener, the Black Hawks would play six more postseason games, all of which ended in a one-goal difference.
The second win of the playoffs was a 2-1 defeat of Brother Rice, followed by a district title with a 1-0 win against Royal Oak High, and the second trophy.
In the regional round, a 1-0 victory against Fraser was followed by a 2-1 victory against Utica High, and trophy No. 3.
In the state semifinals, it was a 1-0 overtime upset of Traverse City West.
“Such an awesome experience,” MacAulay said of the postseason run. “It was penalty kicks and overtimes and just about everything else. It was crazy at times.”
MacAulay spoke as he held the runner-up evidence, trophy No. 4.
“This has to be the expectation,” MacAulay said of playing for championships. “We’re excited for what the future holds, and we expect more games and seasons of this caliber.”