Eisenhower girls soccer aims to put together another winning season

By: Mark Vest | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 16, 2013

 Lexi McMillan dribbles down the field in a game earlier this season. She is one of seven seniors on Utica Eisenhower’s roster.

Lexi McMillan dribbles down the field in a game earlier this season. She is one of seven seniors on Utica Eisenhower’s roster.

Photo by Donna Agusti

UTICA — The Utica Eisenhower girls soccer team has written quite the story of success in recent years.

Since 2008, the Eagles have amassed a record of 87-11-5. That includes a 46-2-2 mark in Macomb Area Conference Red Division, where Eisenhower has won four of the last five division titles — and nine of 14 league titles since 1999.

Eagles coach Mehrdad Nekoogar also boasts about Ike being the only team in the county to advance to the state finals in the last five years, falling to Portage Central 3-2 in overtime in the 2009 Division 1 title game. Nekoogar also said the Eagles have the most wins of any program in Macomb County since 2008.

Last season, Eisenhower lost just one game, going 16-0-1 in the regular season. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that loss came in their district opener against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek in overtime.

With a fresh campaign in front of them, Nekoogar is hoping his Eagles (2-0-0 at press time) can once again inflict some damage in the Red and make a deeper run in the postseason.

“Our goal is always the same,” he said. “We (want to) advance as far as we can (in the) district and regional. That never changes. But because we have a younger team, we have to wait and see how they respond under pressure.

“As we play more and more games, I’m pretty sure (they’ll) become more confident.”

Lofty ambitions should come as no surprise to Eisenhower’s players. Given the history of success of Eisenhower’s program, Nekoogar believes his players are well aware of the tradition that has been established and the expectations that come with suiting up for the Eagles.

“Every player who comes to Eisenhower to play soccer, they know it’s the most successful school in Macomb (County),” he said. “It’s pressure, but in a good way. They know expectations are high. That’s why I think, when they’re playing, they play with a lot of heart.”

Eisenhower has seven seniors in place to try to help the Eagles put together another strong season. Ike graduated 14 players from last year’s squad, and Nekoogar is looking to his current group of seniors to step in and serve as leaders for the team.

“It’s a lot to learn for these girls, and that’s where the senior players need to step it up and work with these younger kids,” he said. “Hopefully, it pays off for everybody.”

While Nekoogar would like to see his team rack up some victories once postseason play comes around, the Eagles will have to try to make their way through the Red first.

“It’s a tough division,” he said. “It’s (going to) be very competitive. If nothing else, we will have our hands full with Grosse Pointe South. They are the team this year to beat. (Grosse Pointe South coach Gene Harkins) has a lot of senior players returning. Almost everybody is back from last year.”

The Eagles next hit the field for a matchup against Utica Ford II at 7 p.m. April 17 at home.