GIRLS SOCCER: Rochester ousts Anchor Bay, reaches regional finals for ninth time

| June 7, 2022 | Comments (0)




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ROCHESTER HILLS – With each passing game, Rochester is apparently playing with some serious confidence.

The Division 1 fifth-ranked Falcons added to their swagger Tuesday at Rochester Adams.

Rochester scored two second-half goals and advanced to the regional finals for the ninth time in school history with a 2-0 shutout of 13th-ranked New Baltimore Anchor Bay in the regional semifinals.

“We found another way to win,” said Rochester coach Doug Steinard.

Unbeaten Rochester (16-0-4) dominated the first 20 minutes of the first half while Anchor Bay (13-3-3) carried play for most of the final 20 minutes of the half and held a 7-5 shots edge over the first 40 minutes. The two state-ranked foes settled for a 0-0 tie at the break.

Rochester came out of the gate in the second half to score a goal in the 41st minute and grab control. The Falcons outshot the Tars 9-6 after halftime.

Rochester’s Natalie Rayce (No. 8) slips past New Baltimore Anchor Bay’s Kaylah Joyce during the Falcons’ 2-0 regional semifinals victory Tuesday. Courtesy Photo | Ken Swart, Swart Photography

Junior midfielder Natalie Rayce scored her team-leading 19th and 20th goals of the season to give the Falcons the lead and eventually the regional semifinals win – the program’s first since 2013.

Rayce converted the eventual game-winner with 39:24 left in the second half on a nice individual effort.

Collecting a loose ball on the right side, Rayce cut the ball back, danced around a defender and uncorked a bending 30-yard laser that sailed into the upper-90 of the net next to the far post.

That ignited the Falcons’ surge which later resulted in another tally with 17:42 to play.

Rayce converted again when junior Ava Williams fed her with a short pass and she laced a low shot from 25 yards out that soared between two defenders at waist high and again snuck inside the right post. Anchor Bay senior goalkeeper Avory Murray didn’t even see the shot until it was too late.

“(Natalie Rayce) is one of the top players in the area, if not the state for a reason. That’s what she’s done all year,” grinned Steinard. “She’s scored in every playoff game except one, and she had the assist in the one she didn’t score in. She’s the real deal.”

Scoring in the opening minute of the second half was crucial in taking command.

“We talked at halftime just trying to create some problems for them an actually test their keeper,” offered Steinard. “We talked about just being dangerous when you can. Goals obviously change games, and it took the wind out of their sails a bit. Then we kind of settled into the game.”

Rochester held a narrow 14-13 total shots advantage on the night, while both teams traded off nine shots on frame. The Falcons also held a 7-5 advantage with cornerkicks.

Freshman Alice Max stopped nine shots, including seven in the first half, to record her 10th shutout of the season. The Falcons have outscored the opposition 57-15 overall in 20 games and now have a 0.75 team goals-against-average.

In the state tournament, Rochester holds a 7-2 scoring edge with three wins against state-ranked opponents.

Anchor Bay has won its fair share of soccer games in the last decade, including winning seven districts in that span. The Tars reached the regional finals last season but came up one game of repeating that feat this season.

“We’ve been pretty good on set pieces, especially the latter part of the year,” said Anchor Bay coach Kevin Grammens. “We just didn’t get anything on them.  We had two corner kicks that just went over. I think one hit the football crossbar, and another one went just wide. In a game like this, you’re going to get three to five chances and just have to finish one of them. Credit (Rochester’s) defense. They did their job.”

Rochester will face Troy Athens for the regional championship Thursday at 7 p.m. at Rochester Adams. The Falcons beat Athens 2-0 back on May 3 and went on to win the OAA Red Division title. Athens (16-3-0) finished second in the league, which produced six state-ranked teams, six district finalists and four district champions.

The league also has three schools who will be competing for regional championships – Rochester, Troy Athens and Bloomfield Hills. Athens defeated Fraser (7-0) and Bloomfield Hills doubled up league member Lake Orion (4-2) on Tuesday night.



1987: District champions, reached Class A regional semifinals

1992: District champions, lost in Class A regionals finals to Grosse Pointe North (4-1)

1994: District champions, regional champions, lost in Class A state semifinals to Troy (2-1)

1995: District champions, regional champions, lost to Birmingham Seaholm in Class A state semifinals (4-1)

1996: District champions, lost in Class A regional semifinals to Midland Dow (4-2)

2002: District champions, lost in Division 1 regional finals to Troy (4-0)

2004: District champions, lost in Division 1 regional finals to Grosse Pointe South (2-1, 2OT)

2006: District champions, lost in Division 1 regional finals to Novi (1-0)

2007: District champions, regional champions, lost in Division 1 state finals to Novi (2-1)

2013: District champions, regional champions, lost in Division 1 state semifinals to Troy (2-1, 2OT, SO)

2022: District champions, advanced to Thursday’s Division 1 regional finals


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