Seaholm soccer team playing inspired, wraps up OAA Blue Division title

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 15, 2017

BIRMINGHAM — This was a confident group to start the year, one that hit the ground running with an expectation to compete on a nightly basis.

But to be undefeated 12 games into the season?

“I knew we’d be good, but I thought it’d take longer,” coach Manuel Rodrigues said with a laugh about his Birmingham Seaholm girls soccer team. “No, I didn’t expect to be unbeaten at this point. But this is a group that’s really taken to this season. The senior and junior leadership really wants this, and they’ve played well.”

On May 9, the Maples roared past Farmington Hills Harrison 8-0 to improve to 10-0-2 on the season at press time.

The victory also pushed Seaholm to 6-0-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division, good for the program’s first division title since 2014.

“This is a group of girls that really believes this can be a simple game,” Rodrigues said. “We play the Spanish style of possession where we use our speed and get the other team running around chasing. We have the ability and size up front to wait and score.”

Seaholm has done its share of scoring, finding the back of the net 56 times.

Six different players have scored eight or more goals, with Cate Brown pacing the way with 12.

“The center of the field is where we dominate,” Rodrigues said. “We have size and speed, and we have girls that see the field so well. These are sprinters who could be on the track team, and that’s a huge advantage.”

So when asked why there has been some surprise at the strong play, Rodrigues said it has everything to do with the makeup of the team.

The roster of 22 girls has a total of eight sophomores and eight juniors.

“The younger girls have really stepped up,” Rodrigues said.

To leave this kind of mark on the season so far is a point of pride for the coach and his squad.

“It’s big, it really is,” he said. “We’re in the Blue and kind of an underdog compared to the other divisions. But that’s fine with me. We play with the girls we have and don’t sub a ton, which is fine. The focus from these girls has led to this. What you do in practice shows up in games, and they believe that.”

The Maples have some key games coming up, like a date with Traverse City Central at 1 p.m. May 20 and Senior Night against North Farmington at 7 p.m. May 23.

But it’s all in an effort to gear up for the state playoffs.

Seaholm is in the Division 1 Troy High district with Birmingham Groves, Bloomfield Hills High, Berkley High and Royal Oak High.

“The playoffs are a different ballgame altogether,” Rodrigues said. His team opens the tourney against Troy High at a time and date to be determined. “As we move over the next few weeks, we have to play with that mindset that one goal can make a season. One chance in the playoffs can be the key. This is a team that understands how essential every minute of a game can be, and with that in mind, we’re excited about the opportunity.”