Newfound scoring option propels Brighton past Okemos in district soccer

Brighton Relies on New Scoring Option to Secure Victory Against Okemos in District Soccer

October 29, 2021

OKEMOS – Brighton’s soccer team has relied heavily on the goal-scoring abilities of Devlin McGinnis and Colin Robertson throughout the season. However, the emergence of a third scoring option has made the Bulldogs even more formidable on the field. Junior Owen Buckley has recently found his scoring touch, netting his fifth goal in the past eight games during Brighton’s 1-0 victory over Okemos in a first-round Division 1 district game on Thursday.

Buckley struggled to find the back of the net earlier in the season, managing only one goal in the first 11 games. However, he has since turned things around and provided much-needed offensive contributions for his team. In addition to his five goals, Buckley has also assisted on six goals.

“He’s an ultra-talented kid,” said Brighton coach Mark Howell. “Early in the season, the goals weren’t falling his way, but it was just a matter of time. Lately, he’s been on a good stretch of finishing those chances. His confidence is soaring. That’s such a big part of our game. We all believe in him, and I think now he believes in himself.”

Brighton’s leading scorer, McGinnis, has recorded 19 goals and four assists this season, closely followed by Robertson with seven goals and 14 assists. Prior to Buckley’s emergence, there were no other players on the team who had scored more than one goal.

“I’m just trying to get some goals in,” said Buckley. “I’m not the biggest goal scorer ever, but that’s all right; I get a lot of assists. It was good to get another one in the goal. (McGinnis and Robertson) are great goal scorers, but I’m just happy to get more in so we don’t just rely on them.”

Buckley’s goal came after Robertson took a free kick from about 30 yards out on the left side of the field. The ball ended up at the feet of junior Cayden Tadros, who passed it to Buckley for an easy tap-in.

Brighton’s goaltending duties have been split between sophomore Reece Meyer and senior Charlie Burchfield throughout the season. However, for the postseason opener against Okemos, Burchfield played the entire game and delivered an outstanding performance, making eight saves to secure a shutout.

Burchfield’s aggressive style of play proved to be a better fit for Brighton due to injuries on the back line. On multiple occasions, he acted as an extra defender by moving up high in the box to clear the ball.

The loss to Brighton ended Okemos’ four-year streak of district championships. Okemos had also been on an eight-game unbeaten streak, winning seven games and tying one during their last eight regular-season matches.

“Unbelievable turnaround,” said Okemos coach John Folino. “The kids just believed and they knew how good they were. The results didn’t go our way early, but they kept fighting. They could have easily given up, but that’s not these kids; they’re never going to give up. Sometimes this game’s not fair. Credit to Brighton – unbelievable team, great coach, great bunch of kids, work their tails off and they got one.”

Brighton’s victory sets up a district semifinal match against Holt, which will take place on Tuesday. The winners of the semifinals will face off in the district championship game on Thursday.

Contact Bill Khan at [email protected]. Follow him on X @BillKhan.


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