GIRLS SOCCER: Athens cruises past Fraser into regional finals

| June 7, 2022 | Comments (0)




TW: @LocalSportsFans | North Oakland Sports



ROCHESTER HILLS – Since legendary coach Tim Storch retired from Troy Athens in 2011, the Red Hawks have continued to thrive on the soccer pitch under alumni Todd Heugh.

Athens continued its postseason success Tuesday night in the Division 1 regional semifinals at Rochester Adams. The fourth-ranked Red Hawks scored three first-half goals and added four second-half tallies enroute to recording a lopsided 7-0 victory over Fraser.

Athens (16-3-0) will play for a second straight regional title Thursday at Adams against OAA Red Division champion and unbeaten Rochester (16-0-4). It marks the fourth time since Heugh took over the program that the Red Hawks have reached at least the regional finals.

Last season Athens lost in the D-1 state title match. In 2016 the Red Hawks lost in the regional finals and Athens also lost in the Final Four back in 2015. Athens has captured at least a district title five times under Heugh (2014, 2015, 2016, 2021 and 2022).

“I believe every year since 2013 we have at least played for a district championship and we’ve made some runs in the (past decade),” noted Heugh. “I don’t think some of the parents get it and even some of the kids don’t get it. They don’t understand how hard it is to make a run. You can’t take it for granted because there are no guarantees in high school soccer.

“I look at our boys program. I remember in 2013 we were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state and lost in overtime in the district finals to Utica,” recalled the coach, who played on Athens’ 1989 Class A state championship team. “In 2016 our boys made a run to the state finals and lost to East Kentwood on PKs. The next year we were ranked third in the state and lost to (Birmingham) Brother Rice in the first round. We were done the first night. In 2018 our boys were No. 1 in the state entering districts and we dominated Utica Ford but couldn’t score and lost 1-0 in the district finals. We lost a lot of seniors from that team and the next year we came back and captured the state championship.

“You can’t predict it,” he continued. “Our girls have been solid every year and last year we were able to make a run to the state finals. This year we are now one of the final eight teams in Division 1. It’s not easy. We beat (Birmingham) Seaholm in our district opener but didn’t play all that well. We got a lucky bounce and scored. They hit a post. If they score there then who knows what might have happened. We beat Troy in the district finals and our goalie saved a penalty kick. You have to do the little things and you have to make big plays to advance.”

Against Fraser (8-8-4) the Red Hawks made lots of plays and had their second highest offensive output of the season. Athens scored eight goals in an 8-0 win over Goodrich back on April 5. Over the past 10 games, the Red Hawks hold a 26-9 scoring edge and eight of their opponents this season captured district championships.

Senior Casey Gruber scored what proved to be the game-winner with 23:47 left in the first half. Abby Mayne lofted a cornerkick into the box with Gillian Ciak flicking the ball over into a scrum. Gruber was able to redirect the ball from close range and into the back of the net.

Freshman Lauren DeJonckheere lofted a 30-yard shot high into the net for a 2-0 lead with 10:52 left in the half, while Ciak set up the third goal which was a 32-yard laser by senior Alyssa Carnes with 7:39 remaining before halftime.

The floodgates opened in the second half where the Red Hawks erupted for four more goals. Mayne (42:45), Gruber (45:58), junior Erica Renaud (67:18) and junior Sophia Stachurski (69:55) were able to reach the scoring column down the stretch.

Sophomore Ava Weeks and freshmen Ashley Miller combined for the shutout – the Red Hawks’ 11th clean sheet of the season. Athens has now outscored the opposition 58-11 this season and has outscored opponents 9-0 in the postseason with three shutouts.

Athens lost to Rochester 2-0 back on May 3 and the Falcons went on to win the OAA-Red. The Red Hawks finished second in the league, which had six teams ranked in the Division 1 top 15 entering the tournament.

“We gave up a goal around three minutes in and gave up the second goal with about a minute left,” recalled Heugh. “I remember it was a windy and cold night and most of the game was played between the 18s. There wasn’t very many shots the whole game – maybe 5-6 shots total. It was a close game. Rochester is a very talented team and we get another shot at them. They have a good freshman goalie, they have a lot of good players in their attack and they don’t give up a lot of goals. They also won a very tough district. Don’t get me wrong we had a tough district but they had to play an extra game despite not having a loss and won three close games to win their district. They are playing really good soccer. We both get just one day to practice and then we’ll face off. We hope to be ready and have a better showing. It’s the top two teams in the OAA-Red facing off for a regional championship.”


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Featured Articles, High School, High School (M-Z), Most Recently Updated Stories, NOS reference, Prep Wraps, Rochester, Soccer, Sport, Top Stories, Troy Athens, Uncategorized

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR View author profile.

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.