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Highlanders grab early lead, roll over Eisenhower for 12th district crown


BY DAN STICKRADT

WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR

C: 248-884-1051

TW: @LocalSportsFans


ROCHESTER HILLS Mich. — For a team building confidence as the soccer season has moved along, Rochester Adams picked up another huge boost Saturday afternoon.


Eighth-ranked Rochester Adams scored twice in the first 13 minutes, led 4-0 at the half and never looked back in recording a convincing 5-1 victory Saturday in a Division 1 district finals at Rochester High School.


The win gave Adams its 12th district championship in a span of 23 seasons and sends the Highlanders (13-1-6) into the regional semifinals Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on their home turf. Top-ranked Troy (18-1-0) awaits Adams in an all OAA Red Division clash and matchup between top-10 teams.


“I’m pleased with how well we played, really, the whole season. We hope to give Troy and great battle because they only beat us 2-1 early in the season,” said Adams coach Josh Hickey.


Adams scored the first goal in unusual fashion only 6:27 into the contest. Senior center back Koen Schultz lofted a free kick from 55 yards out that sailed into the upper 90 of the net by the left post.


With 27:17 still remaining in the first half, Schultz scored again when he chipped the ball into the wind from 60 yards away. The ball skipped off the head of an Eisenhower defenseman before bouncing over the head of Eisenhower senior keeper Ryan Boardman and into the goal for the two-goal lead.


“They were a little surprising, to say the least,” offered Hickey of the first two goals and the early lead. “When you’re fortunate like that in a district game, things are hopefully going to go your way. But it all comes down to execution, too. We work on that stuff. We have guys in the back that pump balls in like that.”


Adams, which finished with a 13-1 shots edge in the first half, wasn’t done putting the ball into the net in the first half.


Senior Connor Patritto cashed in a breakaway feed with 17:19 to play off a slotted ball from junior Jackson Craft, who missed all but one game during the 2021 season with a hip injury. Craft pushed the advantage to 4-0 after heading home a cross from senior Luke Rosin with 6:44 remaining in the half.


Eisenhower came out firing in the first five minutes of the second half but could not get on the board until late in the contest. Meanwhile, Adams made it 5-0 with 20:28 remaining when Patritto scored a close-range goal, sliding into the ball on a goal-mouth scrum.

With Adams substituting freely in the second half and advancing deep into its bench, Eisenhower was finally able to spoil the shutout with 17:46 to play. Senior Sal Ruffino’s cross from the right side was redirected into the net by junior Joseph Chirco. The Eagles could not close the gap any further.


Junior Jon Coon played the first 60 minutes in goal for Adams with relief help from sophomore Reid Dennis and senior Saul Castano-Fernandez. The trio only had to combine for a pair of saves on the day.


Adams outshot Eisenhower by a 19-8 margin, including 10-3 with shots on frame. Both teams had two cornerkicks apiece.


Eisenhower’s play was marred by eight yellow cards, two soft red cards, and the ejection of two coaches in the second half.


Adams finished a rare 6-10-3 last season – only the third time the Highlanders finished under the .500 hundred mark since the program’s debut season back in 1981 – and will face quite a hurdle next Tuesday with OAA Red Division Troy a team that has a 36-2-4 record the last two years and reached the Division 1 regional finals last season.


“We are a much different team this year,” said Craft, one of the state’s better juniors. “We have been playing together (so well) all season and we’re playing with some confidence. We feel like we can compete with anybody.”


The Eagles were going after their third straight district but came out flat and were never really in the game against the state-ranked Highlanders.


Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar felt the 2-0 deficit forced the Eagles to play differently and his team could never recover.


“I think it took the wind out of our sails a little bit,” he said. “When you play against a great team, you can’t make mistakes like that. We gave up some bad goals in reality. We got behind 2-0, and it was very hard to come back from that. Basically, it deflated us. When you’re behind 2-0 you have to change your formation and you have to be more aggressive. We could never recover.”


ROCHESTER ADAMS DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS SEASONS

1999: Division 1 state champions

2000: Division 1 regional semifinals

2001: Division 1 state runner-up

2004: Division 1 Final Four

2006: Division 1 regional finals

2009: Division 1 Final Four

2010: Division 1 regional semifinals

2013: Division 1 regional finals

2014: Division 1 state runner-up

2015: Division 1 Final Four

2019: Division 1 regional semifinals

2022: To be determined


LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1993, 1998, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017

DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2022

REGIONAL RUNNER-UPS: 2006, 2013,

REGIONAL CHAMPIPONSHIPS: 1999, 2001, 2004, 2014, 2015

FINAL FOUR: 1999, 2001, 2004, 2014, 2015

STATE FINALS APPEARANCES: 1999, 2001, 2014

STATE RUNNER-UP: 2001, 2014

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1999


ROCHJESTER ADAMS YEAR-BY-YEAR TEAM RECORDS:

1981: Not available

1982: Not available

1983: Not available

1984: Not available

1985: Not available

1986: Not available

1987: Not available

1988: Not available

1989: Not available

1990: Not available

1991: Not available

1992: Not available

1993: Not available, Metro Suburban Activities Association league champions

1994: Not available

1995: Not available

1996: Not available

1997: Not available, x-x-x OAA Division I champions

1998: Not available, x-x-x OAA Division I champions

1999: 21-2-1, x-x-x OAA Division I champions

2000: Not available

2001: 21-2-1, x-x-x OAA Division I champions

2002: Not available

2003: Not available

2004: Not available

2005: Not available

2006: Not available

2007: Not available, x-x-x OAA Red Division champions

2008: Not available, x-x-x OAA Red Division champions

2009: 17-4-3

2010: 13-3-4

2011: 8-6-3

2012: Not available

2013: 9-6-6

2014: 13-5-7

2015: 16-7-3, x-x-x OAA Red Division champions

2016: 12-5-4, x-x-x OAA Red Division champions

2017: 11-6-2, x-x-x OAA Red Division champions

2018: 12-8-2

2019: 8-12-2, 1-5-1 OAA Red Division (seventh, four points)

2020: 3-6-3, 2-3-2 OAA Red Division (fifth, eighth points)

2021: 6-10-3, 2-4-1 OAA Red Division (sixth, seven points)

2022: 13-1-6, 2-1-4 OAA Red Division (fifth, 10 points)

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