EAST LANSING – Grosse Pointe North girls soccer coach Olivia Dallaire sent a special thank you to her co-workers at Grosse Pointe Beaumont Hospital Friday afternoon after her team claimed its first MHSAA Finals title at DeMartin Stadium.
“I played four years here on this field (at Michigan State) and four years as a player at Grosse Pointe North,’’ Dallaire said. “I’m very speechless. I’m at a loss for words. I couldn’t get it done as a senior in the state championship game. I’m so proud of these girls that they were able to bring it home.
“I did have to go to work today,” the nurse anesthetist added, “but my co-workers allowed me to work half a shift and covered for me.’’
The Norsemen earned a 3-2 edge in a shootout to clinch a 3-2 win over East Grand Rapids in the Division 2 championship game. After winning just one game in the Macomb Area Conference Red this spring and entering the postseason with four victories total, the Norsemen capped their first championship run at 10-7-7 – proving it’s good to get hot at the right time.
The winning kick in the shootout came from senior Mia Stephanoff. Goalkeeper Grace McCormick did the rest, stopping two shots by EGR with another flying over the goal.
“I always pick the same side because I practice it every day,’’ said Stephanoff. “I know I’m good at it and I know I can make it, even when they guess right, which she did. When I saw her I said ‘Oh God.’
North was down 2-0, but Dallaire changed the offense in the second half and McCormick was phenomenal in goal.
“We’ve been down 2-0 before,’’ said Stephanoff. “In our Regional Semifinal against (Bloomfield Hills) Marian we were down 2-0. It wasn’t really that big. We knew we could come back.’’
East Grand Rapids twins Gracie and Reese Lynn are freshmen and destined to be stars. They scored the first two goals for the Pioneers to stake them to a 2-0 lead.
East Grand Rapids (18-3-3) was seeking its first championship since 2002 and finished third in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White this spring, while Grosse Pointe North was fifth in the MAC Red and had finished Division 1 runner-up in 2008 when Dallaire was a junior.
On cue, the Lynn sisters combined for the first goal of the game just less than 11 minutes in when Gracie took a pass from Reese and blasted a shot from 19 yards out into the right-side corner of the net.
After being dragged down by a Norsemen defender, Reese was granted a penalty kick. She didn’t disappoint as she drilled the shot to make it 2-0 after 13 minutes.
GPN responded when freshman Meredith Dodenhoff scored off an assist from junior midfielder Amelia Streberger from just outside the box with 15:10 left in the first half to make it 2-1.
The Norsemen then tied the score with just under 15 minutes left in regulation when Alyssa Burney’s corner kick was mishandled and bounced into the net for an own goal.
Neither team scored over 20 minutes over overtime, although EGR got close during the second half of the extra period when Margaret Periard had a shot that drifted just right of the net.
Gabby Miller followed an opening shootout miss by EGR by sending her shot into the net. Reese Lynn tied the shootout 1-1, and the Pioneers went up 2-1 on Toki Budelmann’s make. But Streberger tied it at 2-2, and Stephanoff decided it on GPN’s next kick.
There was added history to the Norseman’s first title. Since at least 1991 – the farthest back published results include team records – no girls soccer team had advanced to an MHSAA Final with fewer than 10 wins until GPN and Clarkston Everest Collegiate in Division 4 both did so this week.
“This means so much to me and my team,’’ said McCormick. “This whole year we’ve been the underdog. We worked so hard. So many players have improved. It’s been a really great season. We did the same thing against Marian. I loved that we didn’t give up.’’
PHOTOS (Top) Grosse Pointe North keeper Grace McCormick dives to her right to make the game-clinching save Friday. (Middle) East Grand Rapids’ Reese Lynn (16) and North’s Amelia Streberger battle for possession. (Photos by Adam Sheehan/Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.
Below is this week's segment – Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
In basketball, when a player is inbounding the ball, his or her feet have to be behind the line when passing the ball. Their feet can’t be touching the line.
But in soccer, a player just has to be on the line to complete a throw-in – even if their heels are both barely touching the line and the majority of their body is in the field of play.
It is considered a legal soccer throw-in if any part of both feet is either touching the line or behind the line, including if the player does a somersault or front-flip style throw-in. As long as they flip and land with both feet on or behind the line and throw the ball – it’s a legal throw-in.