New Novi Champion Goes Even Bigger

June 15, 2019

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Scoring goals in a championship game is never easy.

But Novi sure made it look that way in Saturday’s Division 1 title game at DeMartin Stadium. The Wildcats had four players score at least once – including senior Jessie Bandyk, who netted two – and cruised past Plymouth, 5-0, to take home their second straight Finals championship.

The five goals were the most that have been scored in a Division 1 championship game.

“These seniors, knowing that this was their last game, they were given a gift,” Novi head coach Todd Pheiffer said. “When you start the state tournament, you never know when your last practice is going to be. You show up for the game the next day, you hope you win and get to practice the next day. When you get to the state championship game, you know when it’s your last practice.”

There will be no more practices this season for the Wildcats – nor games. There’s nothing left to prove. Novi wrapped up an unbeaten season, finishing 28-0-1, becoming just the second team in state history – along with Hudsonville Unity Christian in 2006 – to win 28 games and finish unbeaten.

Despite Saturday’s dominating offensive showing, Pheiffer spent a lot of time after the game praising his defense.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of my back four,” said the coach, speaking about senior Lauren Calhoun, juniors Nevada Larson and Sarah Katinas and sophomore Eva Burns. “My back four defenders, my goalkeepers, they just pride themselves every single game about limiting the other team’s shots and giving up no goals.”

The Wildcats allowed just eight goals this season and picked up 23 shutouts – the second most in state history. On Saturday, they allowed just five shots, two on goal. They outshot Plymouth 25-5.

Junior Avery Fenchel scored the first goal of the game for Novi, off a pass from Katinas, just before the midway point in the first half. Katinas slid a pass through a pair of Plymouth defenders, finding Fenchel, who made a stop-move to her right before shooting back left near post to beat the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

The game stayed that way until the final three minutes of the half. That’s when Novi senior Lexi Whalen took a long pass from Fenchel and dribbled to her left to set up a 20-yard strike to make it 2-0.

The Wildcats would add three more goals in the second half to pull away for the win – their third over Plymouth this season. Senior Julia Stadtherr poked in a pass from junior Michelle Jecmen to make it 3-0 with just under 28 minutes left in the game. Bandyk then did her magic over the game’s final 26 minutes.

“We came into this game like it was the first time we had played (Plymouth), and we gave it everything we had,” said Bandyk, who scored both of her goals off passes from Stadtherr. “Speaking as a senior, this was our last 80 minutes playing high school soccer. We all gave it our all, and we just connected and put the ball in the back of the net.”

Freshman Sammy Maday made two saves in goal for Novi. Sophomore Abbey Pheiffer, the team’s regular starter who was injured prior to the start of the tournament, finished up the game in goal to share in the shutout.

Plymouth’s struggles started early, as during the first half it was outshot 15-1 and did not put a shot on goal.

“We played them a lot tougher the last two times. But they’re a strong team,” Plymouth head coach Jeff Neschich said. “When we got down, we kind of lost our composure.”

Plymouth had just two shots on goal, those coming off the feet of senior Kennedy White and junior Lily Tiplady during the second half. The Wildcats finished the season 19-5-1. They had a wild postseason run which included a pair of comeback victories.

“We had two playoff games where we came from two goals down to tie them up and eventually win them (Canton and Troy),” Neschich said. “We couldn’t keep pulling the rabbit out of the hat. But the accomplishments they had were incredible. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Novi has now won seven Division 1 titles, all since 2005, and is a perfect 7-0 in its championship game appearances. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1 all season by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.

“All we kept hearing at the beginning of the year was, ‘They’re the defending champ, everyone wants to knock you off,’” Todd Pheiffer said. “We graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team. We are not the same team as last year. We had a good corps coming back, some great senior leadership back, but we were a different team. This was about these girls winning their state championship. I’m just so proud of how this team’s played all year long.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: Novi keeper Sammy Maday sends the ball downfield during the Division 1 Final on Saturday. (Middle) Novi's Lexi Whalen (12) and Plymouth's Audrey Kananen work to get possession. 

Be the Referee: Soccer Offsides or Goal?

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 23, 2023

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 – Soccer Offsides or Goal? - Listen

Today we’re on the soccer field for another You Make the Call.

Team A has a throw-in near midfield. Team A’s No. 9 is clearly in an offside position when the throw-in comes directly to her. She collects the ball and kicks it past the keeper and into the goal. What’s the call?

Should the referee:

► Award an indirect free kick to Team B?

► Award a goal kick to Team B?

► Award a re-take of the throw-in to Team A?

► Award a goal to Team A?

If you said, "Award a goal to Team A" … you are correct, despite the goal-scorer being in a clear offsides position.

The soccer rulebook states that a player shall not be penalized for offsides if she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. It’s a legal play – and counts as a goal.

Previous Editions:

May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: An official raises his flag during this spring's Trenton/Pontiac Notre Dame Prep game. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)