Lumen Christi Shows Resolve, Ermatinger Shines in History-Making Clincher

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for

June 14, 2024

EAST LANSING – Jackson Lumen Christi keeper Izzy Ermatinger stepped up to kick first as the Titans began a Division 4 championship-deciding shootout Kalamazoo Christian on Friday.

She scored, then was brilliant in net stopping all but one of the Comets’ shots to clinch the Titans’ first Finals title in this sport with a 2-1 victory at DeMartin Stadium.

Lumen won the shootout 3-1, as Paige Lefere and Paityn Petitto also buried shots in the deciding portion following 100 minutes of regulation and overtime.

“I always kick left when we are doing PKs (penalty kicks). That’s what I normally do, and I got it,” Ermatinger said.

“We’ve been practicing PKs all through the season in case something like this came up. Every day at practice we shoot PKs,” added Codi Ruge, who scored Lumen’s regulation goal. “Izzy was fantastic. She’s a great goalie and we’re going to miss her.”

Lumen Christi had played in a championship match one other time, in 2000, and finished the season 14-7 after going 2-6 and placing eighth in the Catholic High School League AA.

The Titans gave up only two goals over seven tournament games during this run. Lumen Christi endured Friday's marathon while subbing only once, making the performance even more impressive. 

Kalamazoo Christian’s Jordyn Bonnema (11) elevates to get to the ball.Kalamazoo Christian also showed its mettle after experiencing an unusual journey to the championship match. The team bus broke down just outside of Battle Creek. Family and friends had to pitch in and get the players to East Lansing. They arrived about 45 minutes before game time, with the MHSAA pushing back the start by five minutes.

The Titans struck first when Petitto sent a 40-yard pass to Ruge, who took the ball in stride and blasted a shot into the net just under four minutes into the match. It was the sophomore’s 17th goal of the season, and Petitto’s 10thassist.

“Every game in the huddle we come out and say first five (minutes), let’s score,’’ said Ruge. “That’s what we did. We wanted to get an early goal to get some momentum. It was a very good pass by (Petitto). We’ve been playing the same people most of the season, so that helped us.”

The Titans kept the offensive pressure on, keeping the ball in the Comets’ half for the first 20 minutes. 

Kalamazoo Christian (18-5-2) was unable to take advantage of Lumen Christi’s lack of depth, and struggled to find offensive consistency. Still, the Comets had a great chance to tie the game late in the first half, but a shot sailed over the top of the net.

They wasted no time scoring to start the second half, as Ari Allen capitalized on a Lumen Christi miscue on a pass and scored from the left side on a Phoebe Zeyl assist to tie the score 1-1.

Both goalies – the Comets’ Elizabeth Netz, and Ermatinger – were excellent in goal, making four and seven saves, respectively.

The championship capped a run that also included Lumen Christi’s first Regional title since 2007.

“This means a lot to us,’’ Ruge said. “It has never happened before, and it’s something we’ll never forget.’’ 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lumen Christi keeper Izzy Ermatinger makes the title-clinching save during a shootout that decided the Division 4 title Friday. (Middle) Kalamazoo Christian’s Jordyn Bonnema (11) elevates to get to the ball.

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.)