Athens Ends Inspired Run with OT Surge

November 2, 2019

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

COMSTOCK PARK – It was nearly three decades ago to the day that Todd Heugh won an MHSAA Finals championship as a soccer player at Troy Athens High School.

Heugh experienced that same joy as the head coach of his alma mater Saturday after the Red Hawks defeated Traverse City West 4-1 in overtime in the Division 1 Final at Comstock Park High School.  

“I was on the 1989 state championship team at Athens, and now in 2019 I win one as a head coach,” Heugh said. “We’ve talked all season about enjoying the journey and this moment of playing on the big stage at a great facility. They seized their moment, and I’m thrilled for them. I know it’s something that they are not going to forget the rest of their lives.”

Troy Athens (23-2-1) won the program’s fifth Finals title, but first since 1997. Heugh’s 1989 squad won a Class A championship with a 1-0 victory over Salem.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Red Hawks goalkeeper Jason Kemp, who had four saves. “He talked about it the other day in the locker room, and he pulled out his varsity jacket and his medals and everything. He said 30 years ago he won the state championship, and now you guys have the opportunity in front of you yourselves.

“It’s been a while since our school has won a state championship, so to finally give this great institution another state championship is indescribable.”

After a scoreless first half, Troy Athens got on the board with just more than 27 minutes remaining.

After a penalty that resulted in a free kick, senior Andri Myftari ripped a shot from just outside of the box into the left corner of the goal.

Traverse City West (18-4-2), which had won 13 of its last 14 games, answered with less than 14 minutes left when sophomore Colin Blackport scored on a penalty kick. 

“I think for the first time this season, maybe we got a little rattled after they scored on the PK,” Heugh said. “We started to foul, but we had time to calm down before overtime and we talked about seizing your moment. They are going to have theirs, we are going to have ours, and what are you going to do in those moments. I was super proud of them.”

Both teams failed to score during the first 10-minute overtime period. But over the next 10 overtime minutes, the Red Hawks strung together a flurry of goals to take command. 

Troy Athens scored three goals in a span of four minutes.

Sophomore Ryan Gruca had a pair, including the go-ahead goal, and senior Rishi Kalyan added the other to send the Athens faithful into a frenzy.  

“We’ve scored in bunches throughout this tournament, so there wasn’t a doubt that we could do it,” Heugh said. “I didn’t think we would get three, but I knew if we scored one then we might be able to score two. We’ve done it quite a bit in the tournament.”

Troy Athens drew inspiration from last year’s disappointment. The team was unbeaten through the regular season before being upset in the District Final.  

Thirteen seniors returned from that team in a bid for redemption. 

“That was always our motivation coming into the season,” Myftari said. “Just doing better than we did last season, and I think that’s what helped us win. We’ve just always pushed to do better, and we had that grind in us.”

Heugh said last year’s ending was brought up only for a short time.

“We talked about last year for a day, and we were going to make a conscious effort not to do it after that,” he said. “A lot of these kids were on that team and came back as seniors. The just won their 44th game in the last two years playing a difficult schedule, so I’m excited they are champions.”

Titans' keeper Blade Kalbfleisch was outstanding in the net and made a pair of incredible saves. 

Click for the full scoring summary.

PHOTOS: (Top) Troy Athens’ Nikhil Somani (5) and Andri Myftari (10) celebrate during Saturday’s Division 1 championship game win. (Middle) Traverse City West’s Kaden Ales (7) works to get the ball through Athens’ defense and the snow.

Record-Setting Saving, Historic Scoring Send Grosse Ile to 2018 Boys Soccer Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 17, 2024

Grosse Ile’s Division 3 runner-up season in 2018 included multiple MHSAA team records for defensive and offensive success.

The Red Devils set a record with 21 straight shutouts and 24 total over 29 games, and also finished third all-time scoring 158 goals.

Their 23-game winning streak that season remains tied for seventh-longest as Grosse Ile finished 27-2.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA boys soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.

Boys Soccer

Keeper Ethan DeJager and Grandville Calvin Christian were nearly unbeatable in 2020, finishing 19-1-2 and runner-up in Division 4. They set a record allowing only four goals for the season, while DeJager is fourth on the season shutouts list with 19 over those 22 games and tied for the second-longest shutout streak at 13. DeJager was a senior that season.

Seth Davidson capped his four-year varsity career this past fall on three records lists for shutouts – 15 over 22 games this past season, 26 for his career and nine straight as a senior. Berkley as a team also made the fewest goals allowed list, giving up only 11 in finishing 18-2-2.

Caden Saxton capped a memorable four-year Flint Kearsley varsity career in the fall with four entries in the record book. He made the assists list with 27 over 21 games as a senior and also the single-season points list with 65, and made career lists in those categories with 63 assists and 149 points, respectively, over 71 games.

Jonesville advanced in its District this past season with an 8-5 overtime win over Blissfield on Oct. 12, and Warrick Elder played a big part scoring six goals. He’s a senior.

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals saw contributions from several players, and junior James Whiting was among those leading the way. He made the assists list with 30 over 22 games, and also the total points list with 49. He also sits on the career assists list after three seasons with 66 and one more season to play.

Holland Christian made the team list for 12 straight shutouts from Sept. 8-Oct. 19, and 15 shutouts total over 20 games this past season. Junior Adam Bergman was in goal for all 15 including the 12 consecutive.

Muskegon Oakridge senior Arturo Romero-Serrano capped his career in the fall with his second season reaching 40 goals, netting 42 total to finish his four-year career with 105 and also on the MHSAA career points list with 125. He also added a second six-goal game, against Muskegon Catholic Central on Aug. 25.

Monroe Jefferson’s season came to an end Oct. 11 in a District game against Riverview, but senior Gabe Gelso finished with a state record. He made 49 saves in the 9-0 defeat as the Bears had only eight players total.

Ian Klenk added eight more shutouts in goal this past fall to finish his three-season varsity career with 25 in 60 games and make the career list in that category. He’ll continue his career at Kuyper College.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's keeper Brendan Ebler (1) gathers the ball and charts his next move during the 2018 Division 3 Final.