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BOYS SOCCER: Rochester not sneaking up on anybody this time around

| October 4, 2017 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Last season Rochester sprung onto the scene with its best campaign since winning the Division 1 state championship in 2002.

The Falcons did so with stingy defense and opportunistic offense. Rochester still only cracked the D-1 top 20 in the coaches association weekly polls before venturing on to a postseason run that included both district and regional championship trophies and a berth in the Final Four for just the second time in school history.

“Last year was a great season. But we didn’t sneak up on anybody this season,” admitted 11th-year head coach Chris Purgatroi, a 2002 Rochester High grad and former four-year starting goalkeeper with the Falcons. “I think people saw what we did last year and knew we had a lot back.”

Rochester finished 15-4-5 overall last season before falling 2-1 in a shootout to league rival Troy Athens in the state semifinals. Not much has changed this year.

Entering the final weeks of the regular season and 14th-ranked Rochester is again knee deep in the OAA Red Division league title chase. As of Oct. 3, the Falcons stood in second place in the eight-school division with 13 points (4-1-1 league record), just behind Rochester Adams (14 points, 4-0-2) and just ahead of Troy Athens (12 points, 4-2-0). Troy (nine points) and Rochester Stoney Creek (eight points) followed suit but are mathematically our of the race.

Following a 3-0 shutout of No. 18-ranked Troy, Rochester stood a fine 9-2-3 overall.

Senior goalkeeper Luke Kastran has logged 100 percent of the minutes in net this season after splitting time last season. He has six shutouts and a 0.72 goals-against-average.

The Falcons’ defense has been a unit “of unsung heroes,” according to Purgatori. Seniors Grant Benedettini, Martin Ivezaj and Joel Fickel are all returning starters, while senior Dean Tangalos has stepped into a starting role this season.

“We returned one of our two goalkeepers from last year and our top six defenders, so we knew we would be solid defensively,” said Purgatori. “We have played well in the back all season. No one has scored more than two goals against us.

Senior midfielder/forward Luciano Erracande has emerged as the leading scorer with 10 goals and seven assists for the Falcons, who have outscored the opposition 30-10 this season. Erracande took last season off from the high school circuit to play with Vardar Academy after earning All-State Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore.

Senior newcomer John Agoubi, junior midfielder Grant Ellison, senior midfielder Marco Gomez, fourth-year senior midfielder George Zagrodzki, senior forward Sid Osborn and sophomore midfielder Gabe Baylon have also been productive in a well-balanced and seasoned offense this season.

“We’re similar to last year in some ways but different in other ways,” said Purgatori. “Last year we were so defensive-oriented. This year we might actually have a better overall (offense). We have more weapons.

“We’re just preparing for the tournament,” continued Purgatori. “Like a lot of our league, we have the talent to go a long ways again. But we have such a (brutally-tough) district. It’s going to be tough.”

OAA RED DIVISION STANDINGS

Rochester Adams                            4-0-2          10-4-2

Rochester                                          4-1-2           9-2-3

Troy Athens                                      4-2-0          9-3-0

Troy                                                    3-3-0          9-4-2

Rochester Stoney Creek                 2-2-2          8-4-4

Berkley                                               1-3-1           10-3-2

Clarkston                                           1-3-2           6-4-4

Auburn Hills Avondale                   0-6-0          2-12-0

 

Rochester sophomore midfielder Gabe Baylon and the Falcons are enjoying another fine campaign in 2017. Photo | Larry McKee, www.lmkeephotography.com

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

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