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Farmington, Farmington Hills

Harrison soccer team hangs right with Novi High, falls in two OTs

October 24, 2012

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Moussa Zaatar (9) scored Harrison’s lone goal in a district final loss to Novi High. The Hawks ended the year 10-6-3.
Farmington’s Donald Payne (22) battles for the ball during a game earlier this season. Farmington ended the season 9-6-5.

Tim Russell said he doesn’t like using the word “heroic” when it comes to the game of soccer, or sports in general, for that matter.

But as he spoke about his Farmington Hills Harrison squad’s effort in last weekend’s Division 1 district final at Livonia Stevenson, he was running out of other ways to phrase it.

“It’s difficult to put into words how good of a game this was and how incredible the effort these guys put forth was,” Russell said following a 2-1 double-overtime loss to Novi High Oct. 20. “Novi is such a strong team, loaded with size, experience and skill. I think for a lot of teams out there, the goal for a game like this would be to avoid getting embarrassed. But our guys believed we could win, and as the game wore on, I think people were surprised how much we were right in it.”

The Wildcats scored first in the match, but Harrison responded midway through the second half on a Moussa Zaatar goal.

After a scoreless first overtime session, Novi scored the eventual winner with roughly five minutes remaining until a shootout would have been required.

“It was fun to be part of this whole playoff run,” Russell added.

The Hawks, who beat North Farmington 1-0 in overtime in the semifinal after drawing a bye in the opener, ended the season 10-6-3.

“We’ve got five good seniors we’re going to have to replace, but this is a pretty young team,” Russell added. “Being part of this is going to do a lot for us moving forward. They got to experience something pretty special here.”

Tough end, great years
North Farmington coach Mike Horner admitted his team wasn’t at its best when it lost to Harrison in the district semifinals.

“It was a very tough loss, a heartbreaking way to end the season,” he explained. “We had two good games against them this year, but came out too flat when it mattered most. Harrison played with more energy than we did, and that really cost us.”

Still, looking back on a season that included 10 wins and a second-place finish in the OAA Blue, Horner still called the year a success.

“We started the year and were really struggling,” he said. “But these guys worked so hard to get things on track and get to the level where we were capable.”

The Raiders ended the season 10-7-3 overall, including an 8-2-2 mark in the Blue.

“Now we have to regroup,” Horner added. “We’re losing 12 seniors, but we have some good, young talent coming up.”

North Farmington earned a spot in the semifinal after defeating Farmington High 3-2 in the district opener.

“All in all, I thought we had a good year,” Falcons coach Luke Juncaj said. Farmington ended 2012 with a 9-6-5 record. “We lost a few more than we would have liked, but when you’re playing some of the best teams in the state in one of the best divisions in the state, you have to enjoy some of the success we had.”

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