BOYS SOCCER: Early goal lifts Athens past Stoney Creek | North Oakland Sports

BOYS SOCCER: Early goal lifts Athens past Stoney Creek

| September 25, 2013 | Comments (0)


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TROY — Throughout its unbeaten streak to open the 2013 season, Troy Athens has routinely scored goals at opportune times. The Red Hawks added to their streak in a similar manner Tuesday night.

Playing against Rochester Stoney Creek, the same program that eliminated Athens during Division 1 district play last season, the Red Hawks scored an early goal which proved to be enough in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Cougars in OAA Red Division play.

Athens, ranked second in Division 1, has outscored the opposition 36-4. The Red Hawks outshot Stoney Creek by a wide margin, 23-8 to be exact, including 9-4 with shots on frame, and even held a 6-1 edge on cornerkicks. It was another dominating effort for a team that is off to an impressive 13-0-0 start, 4-0-0 in league play.

“We’ve been able to do that in a lot of our games — score goals at opportune times,” said Athens coach Todd Heugh. “Against Clarkston, we scored the game-winner with about two minutes left in a 1-0 game. We talked about coming out and try to score early. We were fortunate enough to do that.  I do like how we responded after scoring the early goal. We didn’t let up.”

Senior captain Tyler Gasko scored the game winner, tapping in a cross from Bryan Lawson from close range with 38:56 still to play. The Red Hawks were relentless after that point, hitting the crossbar twice and the goal post once in the contest.

Athens, an experienced team, may have taught Stoney Creek a lesson. The Cougars (9-4-4, 2-1-1) started five sophomores and two freshmen and have had to replace 15 players off of last season’s team that finished as a district champion.

While the Cougars have played well with a young team so far this season, they learned quickly that there’s not a fine line between being a good and a legitimate state title contender such as Athens.

“They’re a good team,” said Stoney Creek coach Adam Bican of Athens. “They played hard, they were at home and played with a lot of intensity. We weren’t able to match that tonight. They played simple, and they wanted it more. They wanted the loose balls more, they worked harder, and we got beat. It’s that simple.

“We’re a young team, and I think we can take some things away from tonight,” continued Bican. “We had some chances to tie and I thought my defense and goalie played well. Athens played with a great work rate. I think our younger guys can learn something from (this game).”

Athens, which features 14 seniors, is trying to win back-to-back league crowns for the first time since 1999 and 2000.

“Every win in conference play is a good win,” offered Heugh. “Every team is good in our conference and you have to come and play. Right now we are just trying to concentrate on winning the (OAA) Red.”

Senior Aaron Nufer made four saves to pick up his ninth shutout in 13 games and lowered his goals-against-average to around 0.30. Nufer is a converted baseball player and first year starter, but has routinely come up with big saves, including halting Stoney Creek’s Griffin Dean on a second-half breakaway.


“His confidence is getting better — and the team’s confidence in him is getting better,” Heugh said of Nufer. “His ability to keep coming up with a big save every game has everyone feeling really good about him in net. He’s been really good for us.”

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