Troy Athens boys soccer beats Salem High in state semifinal

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published October 30, 2019

 Troy Athens senior Andri Myftari, right, attempts to control the ball during a Division 1 semifinal against Salem Oct. 30. Athens advanced to the D-1 state championship with a 5-2 victory.

Troy Athens senior Andri Myftari, right, attempts to control the ball during a Division 1 semifinal against Salem Oct. 30. Athens advanced to the D-1 state championship with a 5-2 victory.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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TROY — Troy Athens boys soccer advanced to the Division 1 state championship game with a 5-2 win against Salem High in a semifinal Oct. 30 at host Troy High.

With the win, Athens improved to 22-2-1.

Athens plays at noon Nov. 2 at Comstock Park High against Traverse City West (18-4-2).

The Red Hawks last made it to the D-1 final in 2016, eventually falling 1-0 against East Kentwood High.

After Salem (15-7-4) went up 1-0 in the first half, Athens went on to score five unanswered goals, controlling the play for the majority of the contest.

Athens coach Todd Heugh was not overly concerned with his team’s 1-0 deficit in the first half.

“That would be the third or fourth time this year we’ve played from down a goal,” Heugh said. “We’ve prepared all season long for this. … We’ve lost, we’ve tied, we’ve played from ahead, we’ve played from behind. … I didn’t think we’d get five, but credit to our kids.”

Athens goalkeeper Jason Kemp helped his team earn a chance at a state championship in what is his senior season.

“Kind (of) breathtaking right now,” Kemp said. “Been dreaming of a chance at the state championship since U12.”

Athens led 3-1 at the end of the first half, with junior Anthony Kapala, and seniors Davis DiGiovanni and Austin Looser being credited with goals.

Senior Rishi Kalyan helped put his team up 4-1 with a goal in the second half. DiGiovanni scored the final goal of the game for his squad.

Salem scored the last goal of the contest with less than a minute remaining on the game clock.

Heugh has seen some things to like during his team’s postseason run.

“I think we are doing the things that we need to do to play successful postseason soccer,” he said. “I think we defend well, I think we play in transition well, I think we are organized offensively and defensively on set pieces right now, and those are the things that you need to do, to do well in the postseason. So far, so good.”

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