TAWAS CITY – There weren’t many scoring chances for either Oscoda or Tawas Area’s soccer teams on Monday, Oct. 4. Fortunately for the Owls, they needed just one, as with under a minute to play, Michael Wrona broke away from the host Braves’ defense, and blasted the ball in from about 18-yards out for an exciting 1-0 victory over their longtime rivals.
“It was a close game, getting to the point where it wasn’t going to be a fun one, a boring tie at the end of the game,” Wrona said. “I kept saying, if I got that one chance and got a through ball, I would put it in the net. I don’t know who assisted me on it, but they got me the ball and I did what I could.”
It was Chris Cummings that fed the ball down to Wrona, only moments after the Owl defense made a nice stand on a Tawas offensive attack. Wrona then took the ball, eluded a trio of Brave defenders and found himself open in front of the goal for a breakaway attempt. The Tawas keeper came out of his goal for a better angle at the ball, but Wrona blasted it just over the keeper’s head, sending it home into the back of the net with just 49 seconds left.
“It was getting towards the end of the game and it was time,” Oscoda head coach Don Axline said of the play. “It has been awhile since we’ve seen him take off, and he can go.”
Back on Sept. 15, the Owls had an easy time with Tawas in what was a 7-1 victory. The Braves, who were missing six players from that contest due to quarantine, were at full strength in this one however, and made Oscoda work for every inch. The Owls had the slight 12-to-7 shot advantage, but each sides’ goalkeeper, Tawas’ Gavin Spencer and Oscoda’s Brendan Apsitis met the call each opportunity they had to make big-time saves.
“The whole way here we were talking about mentally staying in the game no matter what the score is, or what the official blows, just staying in the game until the end and that is exactly what happened,” Axline said. “Mentally we were right into it until the last 50 seconds in the game and that was when the ball was put in the net.”
The two sides are no strangers to close contests. Entering the season, the rival programs had played to three straight ties. With Oscoda not only getting the upper-hand in this contest, but the one back in September, it gives the Owls their first season sweep over Tawas in quite some time.
“To our records, this is the first time we have beaten Tawas twice in a year in about 20 years,” Axline said. “I have a great set of seniors that comes out here and they work and they work and they stay on the field through all the bumps and bruises and I give them all the credit.”
Wrona of course, is one of those seniors, who made that all that work and the bumps and bruises pay off.
“To be a part of this, it is just truly amazing,” he said.
To go along with Wrona’s goal and Cummings’ assist, B. Apsitis made six saves in goal for what was his sixth shutout. Shane Nowiski had four steals and five intercepts, Hunter Gerow had three steals and six intercepts and Alec Apsitis had three steals, four intercepts and one non-keeper save.
On Saturday, the Owls avenged a loss from earlier in the season, by topping visiting Sault Ste. Marie 3-1.
The Blue Devils scored just 28 seconds into the game, but Oscoda knotted things up in the 33rd minute on a goal by Justin Travis. Travis also scored four minutes into the second half to make things 2-1 and Collin Ellis rounded out the scoring on a penalty kick with about 19 minutes left to play. Wrona had two assists in the game and Jayden Conly had one.
In goal, B. Apsitis was able to make 15 saves, Alec Apsitis had three steals and two intercepts and a pair of non-keeper saves, James London had two steals and four intercepts and Hunter Gerow had two steals, three intercepts and one non-keeper save.
Oscoda (14-2 overall) hosted Alcona on Monday in its regular season finale. The Owls host Division 4 district action, beginning Tuesday against the winner of the opening round game between Alcona and Roscommon. The district championship is set for Saturday, Oct. 23 with McBain Northern Michigan Christian and Pine River also in the district.