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BOYS SOCCER: Rochester blanks Stoney Creek in district showdown

| October 19, 2017 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

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ROCHESTER HILLS — With each passing game, Rochester hopes to prove the theory that defense does win championships.

The Falcons moved to one win away from repeating as a Division 1 district champion with perhaps their best effort to date.

The host Falcons scored three unanswered second-half goals Wednesday to stifle rival Rochester Stoney Creek, 3-0, in a district semifinal.

It marked the second time this season the Falcons blanked Stoney Creek by a 3-0 score and the third straight time Rochester held the upper hand dating back to last year’s 2-1 district finals win over the Cougars.

“We just play as a team and communicate,” said Rochester senior center back Martin Ivezaj.

“We all have roles and everyone on the team plays selfless and we all know what we want,” added senior marking back Joel Fickel. “That’s what matters most at the end of the day.”

Rochester (14-2-4) has won seven straight games overall,  including four straight via shutout, and will face unranked Clarkston (10-6-5) in the Friday’s 6 p.m. district finals at Rochester.

The Falcons are 8-1-1 over their past 10 games and outscored its opposition 31-2 in that span with eight shutouts during that stretch. Rochester holds a 54-11 scoring edge for the season.

“We’re really happy with the way we play defensively,” noted Rochester coach Chris Purgatori, whose program has 23 shutouts combining the 2016 and 2017 seasons. “Our goals are going to come if we remain patient and make sure we make the right runs. But defensively, we’re solid. We brought back six defenders from last season.”

Rochester, which reached the Final Four last season, held Stoney Creek Mr. Soccer candidate Michael Melaragni to only two shots in the contest. Rochester outshot the Cougars 18-7 overall, including 11-4 with shots on frame.

Melaragni finished with a Division 1-leading 32 goals on the campaign, but the Cougars had a hard time delivering their star the ball throughout the contest.

The Division I recruit had his bending shot from just inside the right side of the box turned aside by Rochester senior goalkeeper Luke Kastran with 24:52 to go in the first half, while Kastran also punched over the crossbar a blast by Wisconsin-bound Bobby Harris with 32:07 remaining in the game.

“That’s the second time we lost to Rochester. We’ve been shut out only two times all season and both times to them,” said Stoney Creek coach Doug Steinard. “They are a very good team and obviously a little better than we were tonight. They are very organized and their goalkeeper made the saves when he had to. We score on one of those chances, perhaps it’s a different game.”

Rochester outshot Stoney Creek 10-1 in the first half, but many of the Falcons’ chances were wide or over the net.

The stage was different in the second half, as three different Falcons scored goals for Rochester.

Senior John Agoubi scored the first goal on a nice individual effort, beating three defenders before banging home a rebound off his own shot with 34:21 to play.

Senior forward Sid Osborn made it 2-0 after he slipped in a close-range shot following a pass from the corner by senior Luciano Errecalde with 25:33 remaining.

Erracalde, who missed last season with a knee injury, capped the scoring when he deposited a pass from senior Dean Tangalos with 17:08 to go. It marked Erracalde’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season — second most in school history and three behind Jason Petker’s 1992 single-season school record total of 25 tallies.

Kastran with four saves for Rochester, picking up his 11th shutout of the campaign.

“Everything about this group is a team,” said Purgatori. “We’re looking forward to playing Clarkston for the district championship.”

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

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