Shrine Makes Best of 'Promising' Spring

June 15, 2019

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Royal Oak Shrine Catholic girls soccer coach Mark Soma knew when he made a promise to Chloe Woodbeck, he’d have to do his best to keep it.

“Chloe and I were texting each other early in the year and I told her ‘If you come play for us, I promise you we will win a state title,’” the coach recalled.

On Saturday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium, the coach made good on his assurance to his Purdue-bound senior. His Knights scored a pair of goals in each half en route to a dominating 4-0 victory over Kalamazoo Christian in the Division 4 championship game, bringing home the school’s first team championship in any sport since 1974.

“He said it and I was like, ‘OK, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. If we can do it, great. If not, it is what it is,’” Woodbeck said. “So I took the chance and I came out and played, and I’m so happy I did. It’s amazing to be out here with my classmates. It’s something I’ve never been able to do before. I’m so happy I can end my high school career doing this.”

It was Woodbeck, who has attended Shrine but played high-level club soccer with the Michigan Hawks up until this spring, who actually got things going for the Knights. She capitalized on a free kick with 24:11 to play in the first half. Drawing the penalty just moments earlier, Woodbeck sent a shot curling up and over Kalamazoo Christian goalkeeper Jenna Blackwell’s outstretched hands to break the ice for her team.

It proved to be the game-winning goal. But it was just the start for a potent Shrine team which defeated Saginaw Nouvel 6-0 in the Semifinal to earn a berth in its first-ever championship game.

Just under 11 minutes after Woodbeck’s score, junior Lily Hotts took a cross from junior Jess Reaume and redirected it for a 2-0 lead.

As good as the Knights’ offense was, it might have been an even more impressive showing by their defense with the play of junior goalkeeper Allison LaPoint. Trailing by a goal with just under 17 minutes to play in the first half, Kalamazoo Christian junior Lauryn Mohney broke in down the right side. She took a shot from 12 yards out but was thwarted by LaPoint, who made a diving save to her left. LaPoint did the same with 27:30 left in the second half and the Knights leading 2-0. Again it was Mohney on another breakaway. And again, it was LaPoint who made a diving save to preserve the two-goal cushion for her team.

“I rely a lot on my defense because they’re amazing and I trust them. But it is important to be able to make those key saves in tough situations like that,” said LaPoint, who finished the game with four saves.

Shrine (23-3-3) fed off of the defensive energy, scoring to make it 3-0 just five minutes later. Comets head coach Jay Allen felt that was a critical play for his team.

“If Mohney scores that one in the second half, it’s 2-1. That changes the whole complexion of the game,” Allen said. “(LaPoint) makes that save, they come back and it’s 3-0; now we’re in a bigger hole. That keeper is just outstanding. When you have that kind of game, just like hockey, a keeper that can keep you in (the game), that’s half the battle.”

It was freshman Bridgette Drouillard who gave Shrine the three-goal lead, taking a crossing pass from Hotts and punching it home.

Shrine capped off the scoring with 10:24 remaining as junior Regan Robinson took a pass from Drouillard and drilled a shot from 30 yards out.

Despite falling in the Division 4 Final for the third straight season, Allen was proud of his team for achieving what so few get a chance to do.

“We worked hard, from Day 1. When they came in for preseason conditioning, our goal was to be playing here today,” the coach said. “We knew what we needed to do, but (Woodbeck) snuck that one in early on us and we just couldn’t recover from that. My seniors left it all out on the field today. We were just that one pass away, that one shot.”

Kalamazoo Christian finished the season 21-3-2.

Woodbeck has won high-level club championships over the years, but said Saturday’s title was sweet in its own way.

“The difference about playing for your school is the crowd, the amount of people that are here,”  Woodbeck said. “I’ve played in a national championship (game) in San Diego, and there are just parents. It was great, but just having my entire community here and like people I don’t even know who are coming to me, cheering me on. The stands were packed, and I’ve never seen that in club.”

Woodbeck is one of just three seniors on the Shrine roster, along with Katie Norton and Mia Ciarlone. With all the talent returning next year, she’s confident her teammates can do it all over again in 2020.

“I think after this year, the confidence level is so high,” she said. “Even when we were standing in line receiving our medals, everyone was like, ‘Wow, we just did that.’ I think they can do it again. We’ve got like 11 juniors, and they’re all really strong and can carry our midfield. So I think they’re going to be just fine.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Royal Oak Shrine Catholic players prepare to accept their first Finals championship trophy in any sport since 1974. (Middle) Shrine’s Hanna Groth looks to score with Kalamazoo Christian’s Elise Van Sparrentak (15) and Jenna Blackwell defending.

'Where is Spring Lake?' They'll Know Now as Lakers Begin Reign Atop D2

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

June 15, 2024

EAST LANSING – Ella Andree and Clara Saunders started recording a three-part Tik Tok on the opening day of Spring Lake’s girls soccer season, knowing that in order to film Parts 2 and 3 they would need to advance to, and win, the MHSAA Division 2 Final.

On Saturday, they finished the video.

Spring Lake defeated Bloomfield Hills Marian 1-0 at DeMartin Stadium to avenge a 2021 championship match loss to the Mustangs and claim the first Finals title in school history.

“If we won, we had it ready,” Andree said. “We did win, so I hope it looks good.

“The start of our season was a little rough, we had a lot of ties, and we didn’t really know where we were going to end up. But we pulled it together and figured out what players needed to do what, and to be here is super crazy.”

Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Clair Dauer (16) and Spring Lake’s Elaina Furton work for possession.Andree assisted Aveya Patino on the game’s lone goal, and goalkeeper Jessica Stewart made four saves behind a stout Spring Lake defense to give coach Becky May her first title in her eighth season coaching at her alma mater. That it came on the campus where May played collegiately only made it more sweet.

“Extremely proud of my girls, but just proud of West Michigan, our community and how we’ve been able to step up and really make a name for ourselves in the soccer world,” May said. “I played on this field in college, so as a homecoming for me, here’s why it’s important: When I got announced the first time I started at Michigan State, they announced me from Spring Lake, Michigan, and the girl next to me said, ‘Where in the world is Spring Lake?’ No one heard of anyone outside the sub(urb)s of Detroit. Well, they’ve heard of us now. So I’m very proud.”

The 2021 championship match appearance was Spring Lake’s first, and that ended with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Marian. Andree, Saunders and Stewart were among the players on the field Saturday who had played in that game as freshmen, and getting another shot at the Mustangs certainly added motivation.

“I feel like to replay the team that you originally lost to is always a great feeling,” Saunders said. “It’s just like a second chance. We have gotten a lot better, and I’m just glad that we made it back here. Especially for my senior year. We came out and did what every team wishes to do, is go all the way, and then we won it. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of this team.”

Saturday’s match was tightly contested, with both teams having long stretches of possession but not creating many big scoring chances.

The one that hit the back of the net started when Andree won a ball in the corner and played it across the goal. Marian keeper Dani Mertz was able to get a hand on it, but not all of it, and Patino was there to clean it up, scoring the 29th goal of her freshman season. It was also the first goal Marian (15-4-3) had allowed during the postseason.

Spring Lake players begin their celebration.“You can’t coach speed, (Patino and Andree are) born with those wheels, and all you have to do as a coach is just put them in the right spot, get them to work together, and they’re just going to be destructive from beginning to end,” May said. “So even when they don’t find the back of the net, they’re putting defenses on their heels and they have to respond to them and react to them. As a result of that, that gives us much more opportunity to possess in the middle of the field. So we put them up top, let them run havoc and then enjoy the benefits of that.”

From there, Spring Lake (17-2-5) stood tall defensively, not allowing the Mustangs to get a great chance to tie the game. With a back three of seniors Ella Rabideau and Brooke Bolthouse and junior Lauren Nicles playing in front of the experienced Stewart, May felt comfortable. Marian, meanwhile, was left frustrated as plenty of second-half possession failed to result in many opportunities. 

“They defended with five,” Marian coach Danny Price said. “I watched the Midland game where they played them in the Regional Final, and both of their outside backs were flying forward and they gave us a ton of space. In the first half, they did the same thing. After they scored their goal, they dropped their outside backs really deep and defended with five, which is what we’ve done in the postseason as well. I’ve got to give them props for that, they defended quite resolutely.”

Price was in his first season at Marian, and took over a young squad, as the Mustangs graduate a strong, but small (four) senior class.

“We’ll be back,” he said. “We’ve got a young squad, and we’ve got tons of freshmen coming in; we’ll just reload. We’ll be back here again.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Spring Lake keeper Jessica Stewart, in green, goes high to get a hand on the ball Saturday at DeMartin Stadium. (Middle) Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Clair Dauer (16) and Spring Lake’s Elaina Furton work for possession. (Below) Spring Lake players begin their celebration.