Perfect regular campaign earned Athens soccer second straight division title
October 16, 2013
TROY — The postseason is the official sprint to the finish line: the dash where trophies and celebrations go to the winner and an offseason of what-ifs are granted to the loser.
The regular season is the marathon, so to speak: a collection of months where players and coaches can only hope more things go well than don’t.
The state soccer playoffs officially began Oct. 14 for teams playing in district openers.
For Troy Athens, the beginning was delayed until Oct. 16, thanks to a first-round bye.
While this gave coach Todd Heugh a few extra days to prepare for what was coming, it also allowed him another chance to look back on what was a season he, and many around the program, will never forget.
“I knew we would be a good team and would have a chance to compete in the division and win some games, but I never thought we’d be this good,” Heugh said of the 2013 regular season. “I’m just super proud of the guys and the fact they were able to do something like this.”
“Something like this” was a 19-0-0 finish to the regular season.
Of those 19 wins, 14 came by way of the shutout, and six came in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, good for the second straight division title.
Simply put, the Red Hawks were dominant in 2013.
“I don’t know an exact reason why,” Heugh said. “We have a lot of seniors and a great group of guys that came together real quick. I think once we hit the midseason point, they started taking pride in the fact we hadn’t lost.”
Heugh said the guys never really spoke about going undefeated, at least not at first.
“I mean, it was the elephant in the room at times, but the goal for us wasn’t a certain amount of wins,” he explained. “It was about winning the division and then making some noise in the state playoffs.”
With eight returning starters back in the mix, expectations were certainly high when the season began.
But playing in the Red, one of the toughest divisions in the state, and being mere mortals surely would produce a loss or two, wouldn’t it?
Maybe even a tie along the way?
“To go unbeaten, yes, that was a surprise,” Heugh said.
The only other Athens squad to accomplish that feat was the 1983 squad, which also went on to win a state title.
Heugh and the 2013 team began the playoffs after press time, but he said any results from the tournament, good or bad, could never take away from the regular season.
“My hope is they look back one day and realize just how special this was,” he explained. “To win 19 in a row, to not lose or even tie once, is pretty special.”