GIRLS SOCCER Unlikely heroes stand tall as Athens upends Troy for district title

| June 4, 2022 | Comments (0)

GIRLS SOCCER: Unlikely heroes stand tall as Athens upends Troy for district title



TW: @LocalSportsFans | North Oakland Sports



TROY – Ava Weeks is not built like a goalkeeper.

The Troy Athens sophomore stands just 5-foot-1.

On Saturday, she perhaps stood taller than anybody.

Weeks stopped a penalty kick and her five saves helped ignite the fourth-ranked Red Hawks to a thrilling 1-0 victory over host and 15th-ranked Troy in a Division 1 district finals.

With shots and opportunities at a premium, Troy picked up a penalty kick after junior Natalie Bjelica was chopped down in the left corner of the penalty box moving towards the goal.

Junior Lizzie Bultynck took the ensuring penalty kick, but Weeks dove to her left to get her hand on the kick and spin the ball around the goal post and out of bounds with 23:57 left in regulation.

The play swung the momentum and led to Athens’ sole goal less than five minutes later.

Following a free kick, which Troy was able to clear from danger. Freshman Lauren DeJonckheere was able to coral the loose ball 35 yards out on the right side. DeJonckheere’s long cross went over to sophomore Madison Bloom, who quickly cut the b all back by her defender and laced a 15-yarder that sailed into the upper-90 near the far post for the game’s only goal.

It marked the first varsity career goal for Bloom, who normally plays defense but was pushed up in the second half to try to help give the Red Hawks’ offense a boost.


Athens (15-3-0) outshot Troy 9-4 overall, including a 5-4 edge on shots on frame, and the Red hawks also held a 4-3 differential on cornerkicks.


“It was just a few things here and there that change the game for us or them,” offered Troy coach Dan Troccoli. “It was very close and they found a way to score the goal. I don’t think there was a momentum shift. I just think there was one letdown. But the girls kept playing. They kept battling, pushing and playing hard to (tie the game). It was a tight game played by both sides and unfortunately it wasn’t our day today.”

It marked the sixth district title Athens has won since Todd Heugh took over the program a decade ago and the program’s 18th overall district championship in 39 years.

“We’ve had a good run lately,” said Heugh. “We won districts in ’13, ’14, ’15 and ’16 and again in ’21 and ’22,” added Heugh, whose squad was the state runner-up last season and also reached the Final Four in 2015. “But today it was some unsung heroes that made a difference for us.

“Our goalie has really improved and she had a couple of huge saves for us today, including that penalty,” continued Heugh. “And Madison (Bloom) normally pl;ays outside back for us and is a really good defender. We pushed her up and she scores the game’s only goal – and I don’t think she’s even scored a goal this year.”

Over the previous 10 games, Troy had yielded only two goals and held a 18-2 scoring edge and an 8-0-2 record in that span. The Colts (10-3-4) picked up a couple of ties 1-1 against second-ranked Hudsonville, the OK Conference Red Division champion,n and fifth-ranked Rochester, the OAA Red Division champion. The streak ended Saturday against Athens, which handed Troy its last loss (3-0) back on April 26.

“Just look at the MPR (computer) rankings and our league has six schools up there near the top,” said Trocolli. “It’s clearly the top league in the state. And we always play a really tough (non-league) schedule to get us ready for the big games like this.

“We hope to be back next year,” continued the coach. “We only lose five seniors and only two started today. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll be good again next year. This year we just came up short.”

Of the seven schools in the OAA Red Division, Troy and Troy Athens were two of six league members that played for a district title over the weekend with Athens being one of four teams from the talent-laden league to capture district crowns, the others being Rochester, Bloomfield Hills and Lake Orion.



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