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October 17, 2012

Athens soccer claims OAA Red title, Avondale does likewise in White

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Athens junior Tyler Gasko battles for the ball with an Ike defender earlier this season. Athens won the OAA Red with a 6-0-1 record.

Todd Heugh joked that the banners in the school gym could be wrong, though he seriously doubted it.

So, with that said, the Troy Athens soccer coach looked back on the 2012 regular season with a great deal of appreciation, and with good reason.

“It’s been way too long,” he said of winning a league title, something Athens last accomplished in 2000. “We feel like this program is one that should be in the conversation every year, and these guys went out and did it.”

Athens didn’t just squeak out the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, either. The Red Hawks rolled to a 6-0-1 division record, the first team to win the Red without a loss since Troy High in 2009.

“This is a huge deal to our guys and our program,” Heugh said simply. “When the year started, this was the main goal we set out to accomplish. Then as we started playing, they talked about the possibility of going undefeated, and they focused so much on that.”

Athens didn’t mind the dramatics along the way, either.

After losing nine starters from last year’s team, the 2012 group had to learn on-the-fly and claimed the league title, thanks in large part to three come-from-behind wins along the way.

So what exactly allowed this team to have what it did to win?

“I don’t know,” Heugh said. “They have so much grit, so much speed, and they played for one another. From the start of the season on, they wanted this, and they went out and earned it.”

Heugh said this year’s seniors, who finished second in the Red last year, had a two-year league record of 11-1-2.

Athens started the 2012 Division 1 playoffs after press time.

Win, lose or draw in the postseason, Heugh explained how a Red title is something he and his guys will forever hold on to.

“A lot of teams talk about winning districts and regionals and state, and that’s something we certainly want,” he explained. “But winning in the playoffs requires some good play and some good luck for just a short span of time. To win a league title shows consistency from the start of the year on. And that’s what I loved about these guys.”

Avondale takes the White

While Athens clinched the Red title with a bit of time to spare, Auburn Hills Avondale earned the OAA White Division crown on the very last day of the season.

“We had to at least get a tie,” coach Dave Muczynski said with a laugh about his team’s Oct. 13 game against Birmingham Seaholm. Avondale played to a 2-2 draw and shared the White title with Berkley High.

“It’s the first one for us in five years, so it’s pretty special,” Muczynski added. “This is something the guys wanted badly.”

Avondale, the defending Division 2 state champs, ended the regular season 11-5-1 overall and 8-3-1 in White play. The guys opened the 2012 postseason after press time.

“We came into this season with two main goals. We wanted to win another state title, but first, win our division,” Muczynski explained. “It’s such a marathon to win a league title because it requires months of consistency and battles. I think that makes it pretty special.”

Asked what it was about this year’s team that enabled them to win a White title — last year’s placed second before going on to win the state championship — Muczynski said simply, “They were so focused on this. We came so close last year, but they worked for this. They were determined not to miss out again.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.