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BOYS SOCCER: Sixth-ranked Athens blanks DeLaSalle to reach regional finals

| October 27, 2016 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

CORRESPONDENT

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

TROY — As if scoring against Troy Athens is difficult enough. Spotting the Red Hawks a goal in the first minute and trying to come back against their stingy defense is quite a daunting task.

Warren DeLaSalle found that out Wednesday in a Division 1 regional semifinal at host Athens.

The Red Hawks scored a goal just 54 seconds into the match and added a second tally in the 15th minute in a 2-0 blanking of DeLaSalle. Meanwhile, one of Michigan’s top defensive units shut the door on the Pilots, who became Athens’ 15th shutout victim of the season.

Senior Andy Filips scored what proved to be the game-winner only 54 ticks into the contest when his shot from 25 yards out was actually snared by DeLaSalle goalkeeper Justin Huttenlocher behind the goal line, resulting in officials quickly calling it a goal.

“In the state tournament, you’ve got to be lucky — and we got some luck on that (play),” smiled Athens coach Todd Heugh. “I thought we caught a break by being up 1-0 a minute into the game. The linesman put up his flag right away and the official said he caught the ball behind the line. I didn’t have a very good angle and the ref said he caught the ball behind the line. We’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Athens (17-4-2) upped the lead to 2-0 with 26 minutes remaining in the first half when senior Shamik Patel’s bending cross into the penalty box was flicked over Huttenlocher and into the net from six yards out by junior forward Sami Sami.

Athens, which picked up its 15th clean sheet of the season over 23 games, has yielded just 10 goals this season and lowered its team goal-against-average to a paltry 0.44. Senior Mason Maziasz made three saves in net for the shutout for Athens, the team’s third in four postseason games.

Athens has outscored its four postseason opponents by a 13-1 margin, while overall the Red Hawks own a stellar 49-10 goals-differential this season.

The early deficit was too much to overcome by DeLaSalle, which found scoring chances few and far between against the sixth-ranked Red Hawks — the sole top 10 team remaining in the D-1 state tournament.

“I’ve never seen a play like that to be honest. I’m not on the line. But the keeper said he had it, and it did not go in. The referee saw something different,” said DeLaSalle coach Reid Friedrich. ”It’s very unfortunate. Athens is such a good defensive team and to be down that early in the game, it put us in a difficult position.”

Athens held a 9-3 shots edge in the contest, including 4-3 with shots on frame, and also held a 4-1 advantage with cornerkicks.

DeLaSalle (12-6-2) struggled to penetrate the Red Hawks’ final third of the field, thanks to the Athens lock-down unit of Filips, Kyle Kohl, Zac Ayotte and Aiden Fawcett.

“DeLaSalle is very active,” said Heugh. “They get a lot of players forward and a lot of bodies forward, and were a big point of contention for us, especially with the wet ground tonight was keeping the game in front of us. (When you’re trying to keep) the game in front of us and communicating, sometimes it might be a little ugly and we might just launch it. It might look like a kick ball team, but when you give yourself an early lead like that, it gives you the opportunity to try to keep it in front of you. Our kids were competitive, and they’re ball winners. And we take a lot of pride in defending.”

Athens will face first-time regional finalist Macomb Dakota at 7 p.m. Friday at Athens with the right of advancing to the Final Four on the line. This marks the Red Hawks’ first appearance in the regional finals since 2011.

MACOMB DAKOTA 4, GROSSE POINTE NORTH 0: The Cougars scored two goals in each half Wednesday and cruised in this Division 1 regional semifinal match at Troy Athens.

Justin Shodowski scored twice in the first half for Dakota (12-4-4). Darko Stojonovski scored the third goal and Luigi Idhia booted home the fourth goal on a free kick for the Cougars.

Dakota will face Troy Athens ay 7 p.m. Friday for the regional championship.

Grosse Pointe North finished the season with a 10-10-2 record.soccer - foot on ball

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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