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June 4, 2014

Heugh praises Athens soccer team after district championship

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Amanda Harris makes a diving stop during the shootout against Royal Oak. She stopped all four shots she faced as Athens earned a district title. The team played in the regional round after press time.

TROY — The progression has been evident, a slow and steady climb in the right direction.

Todd Heugh knew it was happening all season with his Troy Athens soccer team.

Now, he has the hardware to prove it.

“It’s excellent. It’s a great accomplishment,” Heugh said of his team and it’s Division 1 district title earned May 31 in a 2-1 victory against Royal Oak. “I mean, I don’t think rebuilding is a fair word, but we lost 48 percent of our scoring to the college ranks. The season started slow, where we were struggling to do some things well, and to come all the way back is pretty special.”

Athens also had to come back in the game itself.

Athens trailed Royal Oak 1-0 with 2:41 remaining in regulation before Silvanna Mancini found the back of the net to even the game at a goal each.

Things eventually went to a shootout, where Athens won by a 4-2 count.

Amanda Harris stopped two of Royal Oak’s attempts, while Athens scored on all four of its shots.

“We’ve been in so many tight games; we had the confidence coming into this one,” Heugh said. “We’ve been battling all season, and this was more of that.”

Athens moved on to the Sterling Heights Stevenson regional and faced Utica Ford in a game played after press time.

Macomb Dakota and Grosse Pointe South played in the other semifinal, and the regional championship is set for 7 p.m. June 6.

The Red Hawks (8-5-10) beat Birmingham Seaholm 2-1 in the district semi two days after beating Beverly Hills Groves 2-1 in a playoff opener.

“Just to see the pure joy on the kids’ faces, that’s what makes this so awesome,” Heugh added. “It was a hot day. We played 100 minutes of soccer, and they had to battle. For a team that started 1-4-1, to get to this point, is a lot to be proud of.”

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