Troy Athens soccer wins district championship

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published October 23, 2019

 Troy Athens sophomore Ryan Gruca attempts to get to the ball during a district semifinal Oct. 15. After beating Troy, Athens went on to win a district championship with a 3-0 victory against Berkley High.

Troy Athens sophomore Ryan Gruca attempts to get to the ball during a district semifinal Oct. 15. After beating Troy, Athens went on to win a district championship with a 3-0 victory against Berkley High.

Photo by Sean Work

 Troy Athens junior Anthony Kapala, left, and Troy High’s Jimi Levitt try to seize control of the ball during a district semifinal Oct. 15. Troy’s season ended with a 1-0 loss against Athens.

Troy Athens junior Anthony Kapala, left, and Troy High’s Jimi Levitt try to seize control of the ball during a district semifinal Oct. 15. Troy’s season ended with a 1-0 loss against Athens.

Photo by Sean Work

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Editor’s note: Troy Athens was scheduled to play Warren De La Salle in a regional semifinal after press time. The regional final is at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 at Troy High.

TROY — In a Division 1 boys soccer district that featured three of the top 10 teams in the state, Troy Athens proved to be the best of the bunch.

The Red Hawks won the program’s first postseason championship since 2016 with a 3-0 win against Berkley High in a district final Oct. 17 at Hurley Field in Berkley.

As of the latest Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings, Athens ranked as the No. 2 team in the state. Berkley was ranked No. 8.

Prior to playing Berkley, Athens beat No. 9 ranked Troy High 1-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 15.

Last season, Athens (19-2-1 overall) was undefeated prior to a 1-0 loss against Utica Ford II in a district final.

“I understand how the state tournament works,” Athens coach Todd Heugh said following his team’s win against Berkley. “I understand the short runs, the long runs, whatever. But these guys have been waiting a long time for just another chance, and there are no guarantees. We had a really, really tough road to get here. … This was a stopping point for us last year.”

Although what happened last year is solid evidence that there are no givens in postseason tournament play, the caliber of competition Athens had to face to win a district title this season was not lost on Heugh.

“We went through this district in a pretty tough bracket, and we didn’t concede a goal,” he said. “I’m super proud of our goalkeeping, of ... not just our back four defending, but our team defending.”

Senior Donovan Sharp also understood the challenge that was before Athens.

“Once we knew we were playing Berkley in the district finals, we knew it was (going to) be a challenge,” Sharp said. “We played hard and fought.”

Senior Andri Myftari wasn’t prepared to settle for just a district championship.

“It’s a great relief, but we’re hungry,” Myftari said. “We still want more.”

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