Liggett Shoots, Scores first Title since 2005

June 17, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Although his team found itself in an unfamiliar situation Friday afternoon, David Dwaihy had an idea how at least the first part might play out.

As Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett readied for its first tie-breaker shootout of this spring – and in the season’s final game – Dwaihy, the eighth-year coach, decided to simply ask his players to raise their hands if they wanted one of the penalty kicks.

“I had a few in mind who I wanted to take the shot,” Dwaihy said. “I ended up just saying raise your hand if you want one. The hands flew up, and the freshmen all raised their hands.”

And then the most “courageous and bold” of them all finished the Knights’ first MHSAA championship run since she was getting ready to start kindergarten.

Freshman defender Kate Birgbauer was her team’s fourth and final shooter and put her attempt just past the crossbar into the top of the net to give Liggett a 4-2 advantage in the shootout and a 1-0 win over Montrose in the Division 4 championship game at DeMartin Stadium.

Sophomores Kelly Solak and Alexis Wenger and junior Maddie Wu also made kicks as Montrose missed their first two tries, setting Birgbauer up to end the game.

“I love shootouts. I like the pressure,” Birgbauer said. “I actually turned to my friend Izzy (Brusilow, the team’s second-leading scorer this season) and I was like, ‘Are you 100 percent sure you’re going to make this?’ She was like, ‘Oh, I’m not sure,’ so I was like, I’ll take it. So I stepped up and shot it.”

“They’re courageous and a very bold, confident group – especially our center back who scored the winner, Katie Birgbauer,” Dwaihy added. “She wanted it.”

Liggett (19-2-1) won its fifth straight District title to start this run and repeated as Regional champion as well, but hadn’t played in an MHSAA championship game since winning Division 4 in 2005.

Despite their relative youth – the Knights had only three seniors this season – a number of key players gained experience during last season’s run. But they still hadn’t been pushed to this brink during a season in which they gave up only 14 goals.

Montrose (23-4-1), meanwhile, was playing in its first MHSAA championship game in girls soccer after winning its first Regional title, and ended this season giving up only nine goals.

The more upperclassmen-laden Rams went on the attack immediately. Sophomore Remington Hobson broke away at 28:04 in the first half, but Liggett junior keeper Kara Francis jumped in front to deflect the drive away from the goal. Senior Ellory Barnette sent a header over the net off a corner with 14:04 to go in the half, and Liggett sophomore defender Teagan Cornell headed away another Montrose shot midway through the second half that would have found the net had she not dropped back to cover the corner.

The shot differential wasn’t much during regulation, with Montrose tallying nine to Liggett’s eight. But the Rams had 11 corner kicks in the game to Liggett’s one, giving them better opportunities to attack. 

“That’s turned out to be our bread and butter this year, set pieces, corners, and we came close,” Montrose coach Jason Perrin said. “If you get 11 of them, you’ve got to put one in.

"But they’re very similar to us – they get 10 girls behind the ball, they clog up the passing lanes. We do that. It was kinda like playing ourselves, a little bit.” 

The game appeared over before the shootout, but only for a minute, when a Liggett throw-in landed in the Montrose net with 5:09 to go in the second period of overtime – but the goal was called off because it didn’t touch a player from either team on the way.

“I think that lit a fire in our hearts a bit,” Birgbauer said. “We got mad, and we came back.” 

Montrose had more experience in shootouts – they’d gone 1-1 previously, with a win that way over No. 2 Elk Rapids in the Regional Final. But Liggett apparently was plenty prepared despite a lack of shootout experience.

Liggett’s Francis and Montrose senior keeper Alexis Rush both made four saves while controlling play in front of their respective nets. Rush is one of eight seniors who will graduate from the Rams’ most successful team.

“We had a good core coming back. We won 17 games (last season). But we hadn’t won a District since 2001. So it’s hard to dream too much beyond the District or Regional level,” Perrin said. “But this team grew with confidence. Really, once we beat (Saginaw) Nouvel in the District Finals, I could just tell we had the mindset to go as far as they wanted, and they put on a good run.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Teammates converge on Liggett’s Kate Birgbauer after the freshman’s winning shot in Friday’s Division 4 Final. (Middle) Liggett’s Rebecca Lohman moves the ball to a teammate while Montrose players pursue.

McBain Northern Michigan Christian's VanNoord Building on Career Excellence

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 13, 2024

Jada VanNoord entered her senior season this spring on the MHSAA girls soccer career goal list with 108 over her first three seasons at McBain Northern Michigan Christian, and after scoring 40 with 63 total points in 2023.

She also was just shy of making the career points list after making the single-season list as a sophomore with 52 in 2022.

VanNoord has signed to continue her career at Cornerstone University.

See below for more recent additions to the girls soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.  

Girls Soccer

Sophomore Macy Freeman became the first from Otisville LakeVille Memorial to be listed in the girls soccer record book when she scored all eight goals in her team’s win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth on April 29, 2022, and she was added for the second-highest scoring game in history with 10 goals last May 12 against Marlette. Freeman also was added for 43 goals total as a sophomore and 39 as a junior, and she entered this season on the career goals list as well with 81.

Brighton Charyl Stockwell’s Cassie Hall earned a pair of record book entries for her offensive performance as a junior in 2022. She made the single-season goals list with 55 and single-season points list with 60.

Although her 224 saves as a senior in 2022 fell just shy of making the single-season list, Parchment goalkeeper Gabrielle Novak finished her career with 713 over three seasons and 51 games – with 2020 canceled because of COVID-19. She was joined that spring by senior Kasey Leckie, who made the single-season goals list with 32.

Grace Hewitt became the first West Michigan Aviation Academy player to be listed for career goals, as she tallied 75 from 2019-22 (with 2020 canceled). She also was added for 32 as a senior.

Remus Chippewa Hills’ Karley Densmore made 36 saves against Big Rapids on April 25, 2022, tied for fifth-most in one match, and her 292 over 17 games for the season rank third. Additionally, teammate Hayley Gomber was added for five assists in a game against Mason County Central on April 7, 2022. Both were juniors.

Kelila Rustin made the single-season saves list in 2022 with 251 over 17 games. She was a sophomore at Ionia.

Allison Johnson earned Howard City Tri County’s first girls soccer record book entry in 2021, scoring 30 goals over 19 games. She graduated in 2023.

Schoolcraft’s Hannah Thompson totaled 18 record book entries over three varsity seasons, despite missing her sophomore year which was canceled due to COVID-19. The 2022 graduate five times had a single-game high of eight goals, and as a senior she bested her state record for points with 99 – despite falling just a few goals short of her state record in that category, with a second-place 83. She finished with 130 goals, second all-time, over a combined 54 games, and a fifth-highest 240 points. She’s playing at Eastern Michigan.

Sterling Heights 2023 graduate Mikalah Lewis earned a pair of record book entries over her final two seasons. The first was for 34 goals as a junior in 2022, and she tied for third-most assists in a game on April 10 of last season with six against Center Line.

Lily Usher capped her three-year varsity career at Owosso last spring with 60 more saves than anyone over a career in MHSAA history. She tops that list with 773 over 49 games, with her 268 as a junior in 2022 added as well – and that season she also tied her single-game high with 35.

Layne Palmer had one of the busiest goalkeeping nights in MHSAA history April 21, 2023, when she saved 43 shots from Utica Ford during a 6-0 loss. The Port Huron senior’s saves remain tied for third-most for one game.

Grace Graham capped her Laingsburg career in 2021 by leading the Wolfpack to its first Regional Final appearance – and made the record book for 39 goals and also 51 total points.

Cheboygan’s Kenzie Burt is playing college basketball at Aquinas College, but she left her mark on her high school soccer program as a senior in 2023. Burt made the record book with 33 goals and 53 points total.

Jessica Peters earned Dryden’s first girls soccer entry since 2012 with 48 goals as a senior in 2023, over 19 games. She’s continuing at St. Clair County Community College.

Lydia Kruis and Litzy Ramirez capped their three-season Comstock varsity careers last year with performances among the best all-time in the sport. Among 10 record book entries, Kruis was added for 74 goals (third all-time) and 83 points (sixth) as a senior and 158 goals for her career (ninth). Her eight goals last May 17 against Buchanan tied for fourth-most in one game. Ramirez graduated with seven record book listings, with her six assists against Buchanan that game tied for third-most with her 47 for the season setting the MHSAA record. Her 86 career assists tied for ninth.

Jaidyn Veldhouse led Grandville Calvin Christian to another successful run last spring. A senior now, she made record lists with 37 goals and 52 points as the Squires finished 17-1-3. She will continue at Saginaw Valley State.

Isabella Pool’s junior season last spring included a highlight against Marshall. Although her Coldwater team took a 5-0 loss, Pool saved 39 shots – fifth-most for one match in MHSAA history.

Lutheran Westland added its second athlete to this record book, and first since 2005, as Madilyn Webb finished her three-season varsity career with 48 goals and 53 points last spring and 105 goals over her three seasons. She also scored 33 goals as a junior and seven in one game against Brighton Charyl Stockwell Academy. She’s continuing at Concordia-Ann Arbor.

PHOTO McBain Northern Michigan Christian's Jada VanNoord (20) steps into a kick during a May 1 game against Clare. (Photo courtesy of the Cadillac News.)