GPN Gives Extraordinary Ending to Unimaginable Run with 1st Finals Title

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for

June 16, 2023

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.

East Grand Rapids’ Reese Lynn (16) and North’s Amelia Streberger battle for possession. “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.’’

Click for the full summary.

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.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)