Birmingham Seaholm coach Manuel Rodrigues wasn’t surprised.
Heck, most of the fans who showed up for the Division 1 girls soccer district opener Friday night at Royal Oak weren’t too surprised about it either.
With how dangerous of a team the Maples are when it comes to passing, stringing together runs and scoring goals, it takes an all-out effort on defense to shut them down.
And, sure enough, the Ravens chose to park the bus, so to speak, in front of the net. They packed in the defense and made it as dense of a defensive forest as they could for Seaholm’s attackers.
With the score being 0-0 entering halftime, that’s exactly why Rodrigues challenged his players to try and get a goal within the opening five minutes of the second half. And Seaholm met that challenge, except it didn’t take five minutes. Ava David did it just 46 seconds into play.
The senior smashed a ball at the top of the penalty box that tucked inside the right post for a 1-0 lead, and that gave the Maples a little bit of mojo in the eventual 2-0 victory.
Camryn Geller connected with Lexi Beckeman for an insurance goal with just four minutes left.
Seaholm (7-4-5) advanced to Tuesday’s district semifinal against defending state champion Bloomfield Hills.
“I did say I wanted them to score within the first five minutes, so I’ll take 45 seconds, though,” Rodrigues said with a laugh. “When teams park the bus, that’s what happens in these one-and-done games. Until you score the first one, the teams stay where they are (defensively). And it was our first goal that opened it up. …
“They (Royal Oak) played eight, 10 men being the ball, and they were just waiting for us to make a mistake, but my back line tonight was just superb. They didn’t make one mistake. It was awesome.”
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What was also awesome was Seaholm’s effort coming out of halftime.
Few teams pass to the feet such as the Maples. It’s like they have magnets in their cleats. Rodrigues said all of his team’s passing eventually wore out Royal Oak’s defenders, which created Seaholm’s scoring chances.
Rodrigues also said he prides himself on how well-conditioned his players are. And they certainly looked like it in the almost 80-degree temperature the match was played in.
The high tempo and energy the Maples came out with in the second half made it seem like they had all guzzled Red Bulls during the intermission.
“I actually had a Celcius,” joked David, a senior. “My team’s passing was perfect today, and it really was a total team effort. Like, we all did that together. Even in the first half there were so many (scoring) opportunities where anybody could have done it (scored the game-winner). It just so happened to be me in that spot in the second half. I’m just glad my team pulled it together to get this win. It feels great, but we’re definitely ready for Bloomfield now.”
Bloomfield Hills (7-4-1) topped Seaholm 3-1 on May 4. And actually, the Black Hawks beat the Maples a year ago, too.
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Beating the defending state champions is something that a lot of Seaholm’s seniors are eager to do. They’re not letting past results against Bloomfield Hills sway their confidence entering the matchup.
“They beat us earlier on in the season, but we gifted them a couple of goals, and we know that,” Rodrigues said. “It’s not going to be easy. These girls are so fired up. My seniors are so fired up. It was almost as if I had to calm them down a little bit today. They are in love with this game.”
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj.