By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Officially classified as Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) District 10, the Oxford Wildcats soccer team traveled to Romeo High School to battle the host Bulldogs in a quarterfinal match on a blustery, cold, overcast October 15 evening.
Finishing their regular season in third-place in the Macomb Area Conference (MAC) White Division, just five points behind the co-champion Warren Cousino Patriots and Grosse Pointe North Norsemen, Romeo, coached by Vinnie Vasilevski, presented an opponent who aligned similarly with the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) White Division champion Wildcats.
After both teams were kept off the scoreboard for the first fifteen-and-a-half minutes, the Bulldogs struck first when senior Austin Taseski was awarded a penalty kick and was able to slide one by Oxford’s outstanding goaltender, senior Tristan Bennett, with 24:23 left to play in the opening half.
Romeo extended their lead to 2-0 with 8:39 to play before the halftime break when Ranier Lopez, another senior, found the back of the net.
The Wildcats cut the deficit in half, courtesy of a penalty kick goal of their own by senior Zach Townsend with 16:38 remaining but could not find the equalizer and the Bulldogs held on, 2-1.
In other District 10 quarterfinal action, the Clarkston Wolves defeated the Rochester Adams Highlanders, 2-0, the Utica Eisenhower Eagles shutout the Lake Orion Dragons, 3-0, and the Stoney Creek Cougars prevailed over the Rochester Falcons in two overtimes, 2-1.
Romeo battled Clarkston and Utica Eisenhower squared off with Stoney Creek in the two semifinal matches on Monday, October 19, with the winners clashing for the district title on Wednesday, October 21.
In addition to Bennett and Townsend, the Bulldogs game represented the final high school game for eight other Oxford seniors: Aiden Benson, Jack Butzu, Hutton Gordon, Luke Huller, Christian Mendoza, Max Rehandorf, Nathan Vaquera and Matt Wolfe.
Looking ahead to fall 2021, head coach Adam Bican is set to return juniors Jack Brown, who is the presumptive replacement for Bennett, Dane Knop and Kade Rushlow, as well as two members of the Class of 2024 who gained valuable experience this season, Cooper Caufman and Diego Medel.
By Teddy Rydquist