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BOYS SOCCER Athens works overtime to edge rival Troy for district title



Twitter: @MiSoccerNetwork

BERKLEY – Halloween is less than two weeks away, but Troy Athens received its biggest scare as of late Thursday night in the rain.

In the end, the Division 1 third-ranked Red Hawks had to come from behind to escape danger and defeat arch-rival and unranked Troy, 3-2, in overtime to claim their first district title in three years and 17th overall in school history.

After dominating the Colts 3-1 back on Aug. 29 in a rain-shortened contest, the Red Hawks found a better match this time around with the young Colts, who have grown up in a hurry.

Veteran Athens coach Todd Heugh knew this would be much closer than last time the Red Hawks faced the Colts, plus the fact the game was being played on a neutral site and under the ultimate equalizer – steady rain.

“They roll the ball out and we play,” smiled Heugh, now newcomer to this rivalry game, right? That’s what I say every time we play Troy. “Roll it out and play. They’re going to have their moments and we’re going to have ours and thankfully we had one more today.”


Athens has now won 13 straight in a period where they now hold a 54-5 scoring edge in that run. More importantly, the Red Hawks marched onward in the state tournament and earned a date with fellow OAA Red Division foe and defending state champion Rochester Adams next Tuesday at Troy in the regional semifinals.

But this one was too close for comfort and in a Division 1 tournament where upsets have run rampant and have become almost the norm, Athens found a way to prevail in the two 10-minute overtime sessions.

The Red Hawks outshot Troy 6-1 during the overtime periods, including 4-0 with shots on frame, and netted the game winner with 6:22 remaining in the second overtime period. Sophomore midfielder Danny Kadiu picked up a loose ball back in Athens territory and pushed the ball up to Manny Ramirez. A senior midfielder, Ramirez had a nice individual effort carrying the ball a distance down the right side. He slipped the ball over to the center of the park, senior forward Adriano Shauya dummied the ball and junior midfielder Marc Delikat was left wide open 15 yards in front of the goal and he left no doubt blasting the ball into the open net.

The Red Hawks defense, which has yielded only 13 goals all season – five coming back in August and only five during the current 13-game win streak – held form down the stretch to keep the Colts in the stable.

“We beat them earlier, 3-1, in a shortened game. Now we come back here and we kind of felt a little confident we were going to win,” said Delikat. “They came out hard and it was a tougher game than we thought. We still got the W though.

“They score like five minutes into the game, so we knew we had a lot of time left,” continued Delikat. “That hasn’t happened to us in a while, but (we had) to keep our composure, keep fighting, and get goals back.

“(On the game-winning goal) Miguel made a good run and the goalie took a chance (coming out for it) so I saw nobody was on me so I was looking for it. I called a cutback and I had a wide open goal. It doesn’t get any easier than that,” added Delikat.

Athens (16-3-2) did not have it easy at times during the match. Troy, which graduated 16 players, including nine starters, has come of age as of late and came out aggressive against the Red Hawks. The Colts made Athens pay with 35:50 still to go in the first half. Unlike many of the recent games during the last month and the Red Hawks’ 3-1 victory over Troy back on Aug. 29, Athens did not score an early goal. This time around, the red-hot Red Hawks conceded the early goal to Troy.

Junior midfielder Graham Bauman took a high 40-yard chip shot into the rain and wind that goalkeeper Adam Ethridge misjudged the swirling ball in the rain. The ball clipped off both the crossbar and Eldridge’s hands and fell to the ground with junior forward Johnny Worrell there to mop up the mess and push it home into the goal for the 1-0 lead.

Athens, which held a 7-3 shots edge in the first half, finally netted an equalizer with 5:37 remaining in the half. Sophomore midfielder Daniel Kadiu uncorked a bending free kick from 20 yards in front of the goal and that sailed around the Colts’ defensive wall and into the goal.

The Red Hawks finally went ahead with 24:58 on a set piece goal with 24:58 to play. Shauya sent a bending cornerkick from the right corner to the far side of the box and senior center back Alex Marine was there to redirect the ball with a header to tie the game at 1-1.

Athens outshot Troy 10-9 in the second half, but with around six minutes to go the Colts began to regain some momentum. Troy began to amount some pressure and attempted several shots and that led to a game-tying goal, as Worrell set up a one-yard tap in by senior forward Peter Leto with 4:44 to play.

That set the stage for overtime, where Athens dominated to escape a horror-show-type ending.

The Red Hawks, who now own a 66-13 scoring edge on the season, lives to see another day, as their quest for a seventh state title will continue. Heugh was a little bit disappointed that the Red Hawks let their guard down late in regulation but pleased that Athens zipped back into attack mode during overtime.

“I was a little disappointed as we’re pretty good at killing off a game,” noted Heugh. “(Troy) was relentless with their pressure and we had some tough time with some clearances. Their goalie made a couple of good saves. It wasn’t for a lack of effort., We made a mistake and They made us pay and capitalized on it.

“ Thought for stretches of the second half (we attaked well) and I also felt right after they scored at the beginning of the game I though we did that aswell.” Continued Heugh. “But again with a rivalry in it these kids grow up together, they play on the same club teams together. We played them super early this year so we’re both really different teams when we played them back on August (29). We played on the first day of school (in the Troy School District). I’m glad the rain didn’t deter our kids from coming out and I’m glad the rain didn’t deter our fans from coming out and from playing hard."

You can’t pick the games you play in order, but I was a little bit worried about an emotional letdown from the other night being on such a high and having to flip the switch to worry about your rival less than 48 hours later. Our path to get here wasn’t easy. We had to play three OAA-Red teams to do it – and it looks like we are going to have to play another OAA-Red team in the regionals.”

Troy finished a respectable 10-7-1 despite its rebuilding year. The Colts started the year 0-3-0 and were outscored 9-1 in that stretch and only had four wins through Sept. 19. Troy received its baptism under fire early but continued to improve and advance to the district title game for the fifth time in seven seasons despite mostly a new roster.

The Colts outscored their opposition 31-25 for the year with seven shutouts and three of the four times Troy was shut out this season those games took place in the first month of the season. The Colts were 6-3-0 down the stretch this season.

“We had a good game plan. We watched lot of (film) and we knew we had to get off to a fast start,” said first-year Troy coach Adam Spinks. “We saw what (Athens) did that in the (district) semifinal and we made sure that didn’t happen today. I thought our boys were excellent today to be honest. I thought the effort was always there. It’s unfortunate what happened there at the end. Athens has been on a great roll and to compete the way we have (lately) especially after the way we started the year to where we are now is tremendous improvement for us.”

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