Last year, Birmingham Marian’s girls soccer team had its sights set on winning a third straight state title. But instead, the Mustangs were knocked out of the state tournament in the first round.
So this year’s team reset its sights on winning one playoff game at a time, and it culminated in Marian reclaiming the Division 2 state title June 16 at Williamston High with a 3-1 win over Plainwell — last year’s state champ.
“Our focus was to do better in the tournament,” Marian coach Barry Brodsky said. “And we were ready to go this year.”
Sophomore Julia Griessmann scored in the first half of the final, while freshman Kelly Sweeney added a pair of second half goals to lead Marian (22-2-1) to the win. Junior Catherine Anger added a pair of assists, while senior Hanna Pateryn also had an assist. For more details and photos from the state final game, visit our website at www.candgnews.com. Marian defeated Trenton High 5-2 in the state semifinal to advance to the final.
After graduating 13 seniors from last year, the squad’s leadership role fell to the three seniors, co-captains Makenzie Larson, Alexa Finger and Pateryn.
“They felt what it was like to win a state championship and then go out in the first round,” Brodsky said. “They’re like daughters to me. I’m extremely proud of all three.”
All three received scholarships to college. Pateryn will be playing soccer at Northern Kentucky. Larson will be playing soccer at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and Finger will be attending Butler University on academic scholarship.
“They’re pretty special people,” Brodsky said.
Finger said winning the title is “the greatest feeling ever,” and said she was “privileged” to have played with her teammates.
“I’m so proud of all these girls,” she said. “We didn’t know how it was going to turn out. They completely proved themselves worthy.”
While the Mustangs will miss the contributions of the seniors, they’ll be reloaded and refocused next year as they look to repeat.
“What’s really great is that we had five freshmen play this year,” Brodsky said. “It was great for them to get a taste of it. They know what it takes. And we’ve got a strong group of juniors. Our whole back line is back. We win with defense.
“We’re pretty excited about what’s coming back.”