By: Daniel Stickradt
BOYS SOCCER: Adams blanks Troy Athens to clinch OAA-Red title
BY DAN STICKRADT
TROY — Last year, Rochester Adams had a chance to capture the OAA Red Division title outright before a couple of late-season mishaps ended up with the Highlanders tying for the title along with Clarkston.
This year there will be no more sharing.
Fifth-ranked Adams made quite a late-season statement by taming fourth-ranked Troy Athens, 2-0, Tuesday night at Athens. The win gave the Highlanders the outright title with 15 points.
Rochester Stoney Creek, via its 3-2 win over Clarkston Tuesday, finished with 14 points and in second place. Athens and Rochester tied for third with 11 points apiece in the eight-school division.
“We took this one a little more seriously because not only was this game counting for something, but we didn’t want to leave anything on the table for anybody else,” explained Adams coach Josh Hickey. “Last year, we had the same situation a couple games out from the end, and we gave it up. We ended up giving Clarkston a share of the title. I think we had two or three games where we could have taken it ourselves but didn’t. Today was a good day for us.”
Dylan Brown, the Highlanders’ career leader in shutouts, notched his 12th clean sheet of the season for Adams, which has reached at least the Elite Eight in the D-1 postseason each of the past three seasons. Brown finished with three saves for Adams, which will compete in a district next week with three other schools that have been ranked at times this season, including Stoney Creek, Rochester and Clarkston — the Highlanders postseason opponent Monday.
Adams is playing at a much higher level at this point against the early stages of the campaign, where many of the losses and ties took place. That was with versatile junior Alex Kim on the sidelines for around three weeks with an injury.
“Alex Kim is awesome. He’s a special kid when it comes to high school just because he does things a lot of kids won’t,” noted Hickey.
Brown and the Highlanders’ defense shut down the Athens attack and rarely yielded any scoring chances during the final 50 minutes of the contest.
“I’ve got to give a shout out to my back line because they’ve just been amazing, and up top they’ve really changed the game,” said Brown. “They’ve changed the game these past few games and they’re really ready. We’re really ready for playoffs for sure.”
Adams got on the board in just the 12th minute, when senior Peter Lencioni’s cross into the box was deflected into the net by junior Ben Champine during a goal-mouth scrum with 28:39 remaining in the first half.
The Highlanders (12-4-4, 5-2-0), who outshot Athens 10-6, including 10-3 with shots on frame, struck again with 32:49 remaining in the contest.
Senior midfielder Emil Berentsen broke free down the right side with his cross going over to Kim in the center of the field. A two-time All-State player, Kim one-timed a shot from 19 yards out that quickly got reacquainted with the back of the net in a hurry.
Although Adams has won the OAA-Red two straight times, the Highlanders have not won on Athens’ field in several years.
“I was happy just to win here and get the league outright for sure, and then for the boys here that have been here for four years, this is our first time winning at Athens,” said Brown. “So it’s really special to us that this game, right now, we can pull out in a 2-0 win.”
Athens needed at least a win to secure a tie with Stoney Creek. The Red Hawks, who won the OAA-Red title in 2013 and 2014, struggled to generate much offense with only one shot attempt in the second half.
The Red Hawks came close to tying the contest with 15 minutes to go in the first half when junior Rob McCormick laced a 15-yard shot that grazed the top of the crossbar. Scoring chances were few and far between after that point.
With the state tournament beginning next week, staying focused will not be a problem going forward now that Athens will not claim any league hardware.
“I don’t think re-focusing will be an issue for us,” offered Heugh. “We lost a few weeks ago to Rochester and rattled off three or four straight wins. Tomorrow is a new practice and a new day, and we’ll get ready to prepare for Avondale on Thursday and the state tournament on Monday. I don’t think losing to the team that won the league is a tough team to re-focus. I think the guys are pretty understanding of what they want to do.”
OAA RED DIVISION STANDINGS
Rochester Adams 5-2-0 15 pts 12-4-4
Rochester Stoney Creek 4-1-2 14 pts 13-3-4
Rochester 3-2-2 11 pts 10-3-4
Troy Athens 3-2-2 11 pts 13-3-2
Clarkston 2-3-2 8 pts 7-7-3
Troy 1-2-4 7 pts 7-5-6
Berkley 1-4-2 5 pts 9-5-6
Lake Orion 1-4-2 5 pts 8-5-6
(by the coaches association)
Division 1 — 1. Portage Northern; 2. Canton; 3. Ann Arbor Skyline; 4. Troy Athens; 5. Rochester Adams; 6. Rockford; 7. Northville; 8. Brighton; 9. Utica Ford; 10. Saline; 11. Novi Detroit Catholic Central; 12. Rochester Stoney Creek; 13. Salem; 14. Novi; 15. Traverse City West; 16. Grand Haven; 17. East Kentwood; 18. Portage Central; 19. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central; 20. Grand Ledge
Division 2 — 1. East Lansing; 2. Spring Lake; 3. Auburn Hills Avondale; 4. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern; 5. Tecumseh; 6. Lowell; 7. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood;8. Coldwater; 9. Holland; 10. Marshall; 11. Grand Rapids Northview; 12. Mattawan; 13. Dexter; 14. Holland Christian; 15. Plainwell; 16. Stevensville Lakeshore; 17. Ortonville Brandon; 18. Haslett; 19. Fenton; 20. Ludington
Division 3 — 1. Grand Rapids Catholic Central; 2. Hudsonville Unity Christian; 3. Grand Rapids South Christian; 4. Flint Powers Catholic; 5. Williamston; 6. Grosse Ile; 7. Clawson; 8. Paw Paw; 9. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard; 10. Tawas City; 11. Gladwin; 12. Charlevoix; 13. Lansing Catholic; 14. Freeland; 15. Whitehall; 16. Wyoming Godwin Heights; 17. Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy; 18. Kentwood Grand River Prep; 19. Elk Rapids; 20. Big Rapids
Division 4 — 1. Muskegon Western Michigan Christian; 2. North Muskegon; 3. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central; 4. Ann Arbor Greenhills; 5. Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett; 6. Burton Genesse Christian; 7. Hillsdale Academy; 8. Grandville Calvin Christian; 9. Leland; 10. Grand Rapids Covenant Christian; 11. Lansing Christian; 12. Bridgman; 13. Hartford; 14. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian; 15. Harbor Springs; 16. Adrian Lenawee Christian; 17. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central; 18. Royal Oak Shrine Catholic; 19. Allen Park Inter-City Baptist; 20. St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic