Utica Eisenhower’s Jakson Jaku battles for possession with two Lake Orion High defenders in a Division 1 district semifinal Oct. 14. The Eagles fell to the Dragons 2-0.

Utica Eisenhower’s Jakson Jaku battles for possession with two Lake Orion High defenders in a Division 1 district semifinal Oct. 14. The Eagles fell to the Dragons 2-0.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Ike boys soccer season ends in district round

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 21, 2019

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Utica Eisenhower boys soccer team saw its season come to an end Oct. 14 in a Division 1 district semifinal game against Lake Orion High at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.

The Eagles fell 2-0 after beating Stoney Creek 1-0 in a shootout in the quarterfinals.

“The first game, we played well even though it was a draw and we had to go to penalty kicks,” Eagles coach Josh VanHouten said. “It kind of brought into light how far we’ve come this season. Stoney Creek is a great team and to beat them in penalty kicks was quite the accomplishment. The second game against Lake Orion was kind of disappointing. They got a lucky two goals right away, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Despite the way Ike’s season ended, the team was still able to accomplish a lot. The Eagles ended the year at 13-3-2 overall, including an 8-2 mark in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, which gave them a share of the league title with Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.

This now marks back-to-back seasons that the Eagles have won at least a share of the Red title. Prior to the 2018 season, Ike hadn’t won its conference since 2012.

After losing 13 seniors last year, VanHouten had just six seniors this season and two returning starters. The coach admitted that his team’s expectations were the same as every season, but the certainty with which they were going to happen came into question.

However, a 2-1 road loss to Chippewa Valley Sept. 16 marked the turning point in the season. VanHouten said he saw a fire in his players’ eyes at halftime of that game, and everything changed from there on out. The Eagles went on to win seven straight games without allowing a single goal to close out the regular season and win a share of the MAC Red.

“All of a sudden we started winning and were like, ‘We got this. We can do it.’ The boys all bought into our system of we’re going to play defense first,” VanHouten said. “If everyone gets back on defense, we’re all going to go up on offense, and it seemed to work out well.”

Of the Eagles’ 13 wins, 11 came via a shutout. The defensive effort was led by defensemen Shayne Baylet, Alek Boardman, Luke Drzewiecki and goalkeeper Evan DeJong.

DeJong will return next season in what will be his fourth year as the Eagles’ starting netminder. Drzewiecki will also return to Ike’s backline.

The six seniors departing from the Eisenhower program include Boardman and Baylet, along with Jakson Jaku, Brett Johnson, Colin Brosch and Noah Matovski.

The leadership and expectations that the seniors carried all season long will continue to be the standard as the team ventures into next season.

“Expectations are going to be high,” VanHouten said. “Everyone is going to be looking at us. If you had preseason rankings, we’d probably be expected to win the MAC Red and be one of the top teams in the state.”

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