GIRLS SOCCER: Youthful Rochester Adams shines on pitch, wins OAA-Red and reaches regional finals | North Oakland Sports
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GIRLS SOCCER: Youthful Rochester Adams shines on pitch, wins OAA-Red and reaches regional finals

| June 13, 2018 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Sometimes a young team has nothing to lose when playing a challenging schedule. It can learn on the fly and simply get better at its craft by routinely facing high quality opponents.

Rochester Adams did just that on the soccer pitch — and more this season.

Despite graduating four regulars from their 2017 league championship team and losing six other players at the school to the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy, the Highlanders posted quite a few surprises in 2018.

First Adams, led by first-year head coach Josh Hickey, defended its league title with a 5-0-1 league record — and playing in the loaded OAA Red Division, that alone presents multiple challenges.

Rochester Adams senior midfielder Hailey Wentzloff led Rochester Adams to a 20-5-4 record, league and district championships and a berth in the Division 1 regional finals in 2018.
COURTESY PHOTO | Ken Swart, Swart Photography

“I am not surprised that we did this well, but with the type of schedule that we play every year at Adams you just never know, especially when you have a younger team with a few sophomores and freshmen playing key roles,” said Hickey, who was the junior varsity coach the past several years and had led the Adams boys program to three Final Four appearances in nine years. “But we stepped up all season. We had a lot of very close games with very good opponents and we won a lot of those games. The girls fought hard and found a way to get it done.”

The Highlanders, who finished with a very repeatable 20-5-4 overall record and played numerous schools that were ranked in the top 20 in the state in Division 1 and Division 2, validated the league title by winning one of the state’s toughest districts, topping both fellow state-ranked teams Rochester Stoney Creek (2-1) and Utica Eisenhower (2-1, shootout) in a three-day period to reach the regionals.

“We won the league again, which alone is very difficult, and I thought we were playing some of our best soccer at the start of the tournament, which is always the goal,” continued Hickey. “We found a way to win our district, which is always one of the toughest districts in the state with Eisenhower, Stoney (Creek), Rochester, Lake Orion…that is never easy.”

In regional play, Adams held on for a 2-1 victory over Waterford Mott, while the season came to an end with a 3-0 loss to state finalist Grand Blanc in the regional finals.

Senior Hailey Wentzloff, who signed with NCAA Division II national powerhouse Grand Valley State, was the Highlanders natural leader. The four-year starter earned All-State First Team accolades this season after the center midfielder led Adams with 23 goals.

Sophomore midfielder Justice Tillotson, who had already committed to Michigan State, garnered All-State Third Team status and supplied 16 goals.

Freshman goalkeeper Maddie Dolenga, senior forwards Anna Heath and Ava Bronzetti and sophomore center back Lilly Groesser were some of the Highlanders’ more consistent performers this season.

“We had two very good players leading us this year, but I think one of the surprises was how good we were in the back,” noted Hickey. “Our little freshman goalkeeper came up huge in many games this season and we had some other underclassmen that played well on defense. We were very organized back there and teams had a difficult time scoring against us. I think, other than a (regular season) loss to Walled Lake Northern, we were in every game.”

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

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