WEST BLOOMFIELD — When the Rochester High girls soccer team won a regional title two weeks ago, coach Cliff Brandmier was hit with a Gatorade bucket of ice and water.
“They knocked it right against the back of my head,” he explained. “And most of the water missed me.”
When the Falcons won a regional title June 6, the same mistake wouldn’t be made.
“One of the other coaches helped them this time,” a soaked and shivering Brandmier said following a 4-0 victory against Hartland High in the West Bloomfield regional final. “I’m not going to lie, I’m not very warm right now.”
His euphoria seemed to distract him from the ice-bucket shower he had just received, though.
For the first time since 2007, the Falcons were moving on to the state semifinals.
“This is huge for us and for our program,” Brandmier added. “From the first day of practice, the goal was to play for a state title. Now we’re one win from doing just that.”
Rochester faced Troy High in a June 12 semifinal played after press time.
The D-1 final is set for noon, June 15 at Williamston.
“We’re definitely very excited,” said senior Aubrey Konal after the Hartland game. “It’s exciting to be part of all this.”
Konal was key in the June 6 win.
Rochester dominated the first half, but led just 1-0 on a goal by Gemma Najar.
Roughly nine minutes into the second, though, Rochester’s Konal was awarded a penalty kick following a red card and buried her shot.
“That was a game-changer,” Brandmier said.
“I just had to be calm,” Konal said of her shot. “I picked a spot and hoped it went in.”
With all the momentum in their favor, the Falcons (18-2-5) went up 3-0 with 26:57 remaining in regulation on a Meridith Anness tally, and then capped the scoring with 2:57 remaining on Najar’s second goal of the game.
Asked what the season, and the playoff run, meant to him, Brandmier was quick to answer.
“It’s been one of my favorites,” he said. Brandmier is leaving Rochester to become an assistant next year with the Western Michigan University women’s program. “It’s tough being my last season, but we’ve had a blast, and we have a chance to go out on a high note. What else can you ask for?”
Prep keeps rolling
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep also extended its season beyond the regional round, picking up a 3-0 victory against Grosse Ile High June 7 in a D-3 regional final.
The Fighting Irish advanced to face Flint Powers Catholic in a June 12 semifinal.
The D-3 final is set for noon, June 15 at Mason High.