Rochester Adams wins seventh soccer district by ousting Lake Orion

Rochester Adams has had a knack of slow starts this season. In the state tournament, it’s been a different story.  The Highlanders came out of the gate like gangbusters Saturday at Fenton High School. Although Adams did not score in the first half, the Highlanders tucked in a pair of shots in the second half and dominated from start to finish in downing Lake Orion 2-0 for a Division 1 district title.

It marks the seventh district crown in 11 seasons for Adams (13-3-5), and it sends the unranked Highlanders back to Fenton at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the regional semifinals. The Highlanders will meet No. 9 Grand Blanc, which defeated Adams 2-1 in the season-opener back in August.

“Slow start last year, slow start this year,” said Adams coach Josh Hickey. “All that matters is now. We are playing a lot better now.

“In the first three and a half minutes, we hit (the crossbar) twice. It could have 2-0, but it went the other way,” continued Hickey. “I think they responded, the kept their energy up. They didn’t get frustrated, really. They just kept playing until it went in.”

Adams outshot Lake Orion by a commanding 19-6 advantage, including 7-2 with shots on goal, and even clanked a pair of shots of the crossbar in the opening four minutes of the game.

In the first half alone, Adams held a 10-1 shots edge. Lucas Luna and Joey Censoni both broke free into the box, but had their shots just missed the mark.

Finally, the Highlanders broke the stalemate with 35:05 left in the contest. Matt Szilard’s cornerkick into the box was flicked to the far post by Dylan Knott, and Lucas Luna was there to crash the net for the goal for his eighth of the season.

Justin Kane put the game away when he scored a breakaway goal with 3:51 left, his 12th of the season. Knott drew the assist.

“(We beat them) early in the season and (Lake Orion) got better,” said Hickey. “They definitely got better and played a good game. We just finished our opportunities.”

Lake Orion started slow and never really found any type of rhythm. Of the Dragons’ six shot attempts, none were from inside the penalty box.

Lake Orion finished the season with an 11-7-3 record, although the Dragons ventured throughout the campaign with multiple injuries.

“We didn’t do much for the first 20 minutes or so, but we helped them off and we started to play a little better,” said Lake Orion coach Matt Paukovits. “We could have been down early. When they scored in the second half, we also created a few chances but we were not able to get one in. It just wasn’t our day. Adams is a good team.”

Adams has now recorded nine shutouts and has not given up a goal in three tournament games. The Highlanders collected a 3-0 shutout of Holly Tuesday in the opener and followed that up with a 4-0 blanking of Waterford Kettering Thursday in the semifinals.

Besides losing to Grand Blanc, the Highlanders also lost to Troy (1-0) in a non-league game and Warren DeLaSalle (2-0) on Sept. 11. Adams, which graduated 13 players and five starters, has not lost since.

Adams and Grand Blanc are not strangers, normally playing a non-league game every season.

“We are a different team. That’s because it was early. It was the first game of the season,” added Hickey about his game with Grand Blanc. “We’re a lot better than we back then, but I’m sure Grand Blanc is better. With all of the players we lost (to graduation), we were just trying to figure things out.”

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