BY JAKE LOURIM
TROY — Right after Troy goalie Ben Holland’s red card took him out of the game, the Colts needed someone to step up. Immediately, it was sophomore center back Adam Zaretti who told coach Brian Zawislak he could take the net.
But in the end, that effort was not enough, as Troy Athens scored a pair of goals to upset 10th-ranked Troy, 2-0, Tuesday in OAA Red Division boys soccer play.
Athens (9-4-1, 5-0-0) grabbed an advantage in the 20th minute when it got forward and drew a red card from Holland, who will also be suspended Thursday at Holly. Holland charged, reached his hand out and tripped the Athens forward.
The Colts decided on Zaretti as goalie. Junior Josh Brodbine moved to center back to replace Zaretti, and Troy played a 4-4-1. Until that point, Athens had controlled play, but the red card set off a fire in Troy, and the Colts played with extra energy.
“We weren’t that sharp at the beginning of the half,” Zawislak said, “and then after the red card, I thought we picked up our intensity a bit and started hitting the ball and finding some seams and creating some chances. I just wish we could do that right from the opening whistle instead of waiting for something dramatic like that to happen.”
Athens coach Todd Heugh also noticed Troy’s improvement.
“I thought they picked up their intensity when they went down,” Heugh said.
Senior right back John Mancuso said the card helped refocus the Colts.
“We weren’t really ready to play at the beginning,” said Mancuso, who took the blame for the Athens forward getting ahead on the red card. “We were overhyped and overconfident. We didn’t prepare as well as we should have.”
Zaretti played some goalie on the freshman team last season, but none this year.
The ensuing free kick went off the cross bar but incited controversy because Troy (10-4-2, 2-3) had 11 men on the field during the kick. The officials had to explain the red card and send a Troy player off. When play calmed, the Troy defense stiffened to protect its inexperienced goalie.
It took almost 35 more minutes, but Athens got on the board. The Red Hawks’ cross went from the right flank into the box, but no one got on the end of it. That sent it to Adan Lopez, who struck a perfect shot from 25 yards out.
That nudged the temperature up on a rivalry game where tempers were already flying high.
Troy pushed players forward to get an equalizer, leaving itself with a three-man back line. That exploited the flanks, so Athens sent a goal kick downfield and found Max Klitzke open on the right side for a strong 30-yard finish.
Still, Troy showed a strong effort after coming in on a two-game losing streak.
“I was proud of the way the boys gutted it out,” Zawislak said. “(They) still created some chances a man down, didn’t give up, and made adjustments really well.”
Athens managed only one shot the rest of the half, when it got down the right flank for a shot on Zaretti. Zaretti charged and stopped it, and the Athens right midfielder missed the following shot.
Then, the Colts spent most of halftime adjusting to playing with 10 men and a new goalie.
“We tried to make sure everyone understood their role in terms of the shape with playing a man down,” Zawislak said. “For the most part, I think we did pretty well. We still were creating chances, and just kind of fell asleep on the backside on that first one. We were pushing forward trying to get the equalizer, and they got the second one.”
After the red card, Troy and Athens battled in the midfield for possession, between Zac Doepke and Mitch Guitar for Troy and Tyler Gasko and Aaron Gebauer for Athens.
The Colts put up a fight but couldn’t hold the Red Hawks scoreless for 40 more minutes.
“When we went up 1-0 and they went to three in the back, it kind of opened things up for us,” Heugh said.
Tuesday’s battle sets the stage for a possible district tournament matchup. The teams play in the same district along with all three Rochester schools, Utica andUtica Eisenhower.
“We’re probably going to have to go through each other,” Heugh said, “if either of us wants to make a deep run.”
(Jake Lourim is a senior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(By the coaches association)
Division 1 — 1. East Kentwood; 2. Rockford; 3. Rochester Stoney Creek; 4. Brighton; 5. Plymouth Salem; 6. Plymouth Canton; 7. Okemos; 8. Warren De La Salle; 9. Utica Eisenhower; 10. Troy
Honorable mention — Ann Arbor Huron, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Livonia Stevenson, Northville, Portage Northern
Division 2 — 1. Spring Lake; 2. Hudsonville Unity Christian; 3. Auburn Hills Avondale; 4. Mason; 5. East Lansing; 6. Mattawan; 7. Haslett; 8. Bloomfield Hills Lahser; 9. DeWitt; 10. Muskegon Reeths Puffer
Honorable mention — Dexter, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern, Holland, St. Clair Shores Lake Shore
Division 3 — 1. Grand Rapids South Christian; 2. South Haven; 3. Whitehall; 4. Birmingham Detroit Country Day; 5. Muskegon Orchard View; 6. Clawson; 7. Frankenmuth; 8. Williamston; 9. Freeland; 10. Elk Rapids
Honorable mention — Grosse Ile, Imlay City.
Division 4 — 1. Lansing Christian; 2. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic; 3. Allen Park Inter-City Baptist; 4. Birmingham Roeper; 5. Burton Genesee Christian; 6. Auburn Hills Oakland Christian; 7. Muskegon West Michigan Christian; 8. Ann Arbor Greenhills; 9. McBain Northern Michigan Christian; 10. Saginaw Valley Lutheran
Honorable mention — Southfield Christian, Grandville Covenant Christian, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic.