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BOYS SOCCER: Athens starts state tournament off right with rout of Utica

Utica’s Ryan Bankstahl (22) moves in to block the kick of Troy Athens’ Adam Antosh during the first half of the MHSAA district 13 soccer match played on Monday Oct. 15, 2012 at Utica High School. Athens won the match 4-0. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Troy Athens’ Max Klitzke (16) controls the ball in front of Utica’s Kyle Watters (3) during the first half of the MHSAA district 13 soccer match played on Monday Oct. 15, 2012 at Utica High School. The Red Hawks defeated the Chieftains 4-0. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Troy Athens’ Aaron Gebauer (5) moves the ball up field as Utica’s Evan Barnett (21) moves in to defend during the first half of the MHSAA district 13 soccer match played on Monday Oct. 15, 2012 at Utica High School. The Red Hawks defeated the Chieftains 4-0. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Troy Athens’ Luis Anaya (6) tries to get a leg up on Utica’s Austin Perry (10) during the first half of the MHSAA district 13 soccer match played on Monday Oct. 15, 2012 at Utica High School. Troy Athens beat Utica 4-0. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

UTICA — Troy Athens boys soccer fans were live on location for the Max Klitzke Show on Monday night, originating from Barney-Swinehart Field.

The Red Hawks senior scored twice and set up numerous chances for his teammates as Athens (13-4-2) defeated the Utica Chieftains (6-10-4) 4-0 in the MHSAA Division 1 district opener.

“He's got some state tournament experience,” Red Hawks coach Todd Heugh said of Klitzke. “We're relying on him to be the leader that he was.”

Acting as a high forward, Klitzke led the charge on the opening goal of the game, which turned out to be the winner. After receiving the ball, the Red Hawks senior captain nudged the ball ahead and outran his defender. As Klitzke raced away with the ball, he drilled a shot that sailed through the back of the goal with 36:29 remaining in the first half.

“He's very good,” Chieftains head coach Carl Territo said of Klitzke. “He runs off the ball super well and he's got a great touch.”

Klitzke's second tally of the game, his 14th of the season, came with 19:25 left in the opening half. Aaron Gebauer stepped past his defender from the left corner and sent a cross to the top of the box. Klitzke settled the ball, created space, and sent home a powerful strike to push the score to 2-0.

“(Klitzke) kind of keeps you honest,” Heugh said. “You have to be aware of where he is.”

Though Utica had some opportunities early in the match, the Red Hawks defense tightened, allowing very few scoring opportunities. Athens keeper Brett Schmitz recorded four saves, all in the first half.

“We did well in the beginning,” Territo said. “We played well and created some chances. Their back line stopped us in the final third. We still created some opportunities we played off.”

Ryan Bankstahl had the best offensive chances of the night for the Chieftains. With 25 minutes remaining in the first half, he picked up the ball just outside the box and sent it on goal with his right foot. Though Schmitz made the save, the ball stayed in the box until the Athens defenders swept it away for a corner.

“We need to at least try and be successful on one of those attacks,” Territo said. “Unfortunately, we weren't, and Athens counterattack is very deadly.”

While Klitske continued to press the attack all game, Luis Anaya had a quality second half for the Red Hawks, adding a goal and an assist. His goal came with 10:40 remaining in the contest, as he stepped back from the left corner and curled a shot across the goal and into the top corner for Athens' fourth score.

Anaya also assisted on Aaron Gebauer's goal with 21:13 remaining.

For the Chieftans, a great start to the season slowed as the squad entered MAC Red play. After opening with a 6-1-1 mark, the team failed to win through the rest of the campaign.

“It was a growing season for us,” Territo said. “We lost 13 kids from last year's team that did real well. I'm proud of what they've put together, what they've done. We've stayed in games, at least trying to build the program for next year.”

The Stoney Creek Cougars await Troy Athens in the district semifinal. Stoney Creek rested with a bye in the quarterfinal round.

“They knock the ball around really well,” Heugh said. “They're organized. They don't give up a lot of goals.

We had a great game with them the first time and we're looking forward to a rematch.”

The game will be played at Rochester High School at 5 pm on Thursday. The teams were held to a 1-1 draw on October 2 at Stoney Creek, though Athens clinched the OAA Red title with the result. Klitzke was inactive for the match.

Last Updated: 10/15/2012 10:30:36 PM EST

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