Utica, Shelby TownshipJune 11, 2014
Utica Eisenhower stifles Utica Ford in state semifinal
By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer
WEST BLOOMFIELD — Isabella Palazzolo scored two second-half goals to lead Utica Eisenhower to a 3-0 victory against Utica Ford in a MHSAA Division 1 state semifinal Wednesday night at West Bloomfield High School.
Eisenhower took the action to the Falcons all night long, and the Eagles' work in the offensive end finally got rewarded with 24:17 to go when Palazzolo's free kick just outside of the box got redirected by a Ford defender and found the back of the net.
That goal broke a shutout streak for Ford that stretched back to the first half of a district final game played on May 30.
"Ford is, definitely, one of our tougher competitors, and it's always a rough, tough game, and it's great competition," Palazzolo said. "I'm so happy that we were able to clinch that first one. It did go off of a defender, but that's the luck of the game, and I think we deserved it."
Eisenhower did not let up after breaking through. Paige Duda scored with 8:52 remaining on a short-angled shot along the end line that found the net just under the top left post.
Palazzolo capped off the night for the Eagles, who did not surrender a shot on goal, by scoring on a penalty kick with 18 seconds left.
"Right now, we are going on all cylinders," Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar said. "Once we scored the first one, I knew that it was going to get open and we would score more goals. It was just a matter of time to get the first goal because we did not want to go to the penalty kicks."
Penalty kicks were on Nekoogar's mind because Ford won two shootouts in regional play to advance to the semifinal stage.
"We're not supposed to be here, they (Eisenhower) are," Ford coach Teri Steinwascher said. "We made them battle to the point that they couldn't make subs and get kids off of the bench until two minutes left, so that was the hard-fought battle that the kids put out there."
Including the semifinal game, Ford gave up 13 goals all season. This was Ford's first appearance in the state semifinals since 1988, and the Falcons close their season at 16-5-1.
Eisenhower (18-1-2) advances to play No. 1 Northville in the state championship at 12 p.m. June 14 at Williamston High School.
In other local soccer news:
In D-2, Bloomfield Hills Marian is heading to the state final. The Mustangs beat Livonia Ladywood 3-1 June 11. to advance. Marian takes on Richland Gull Lake at 3 p.m. June 14 at Williamston High. Those two teams met for the championship last season with Gull Lake coming out on top.
In D-3, Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day advanced, beating Freeland High 3-0 June 11. The Yellowjackets meet Hudsonville Unity Christian at 12 p.m. June 14 at Mason High. Unity Christian has won seven state championships since 2005.