The Bloomfield Hills Marian team poses with the Division 2 state title trophy following a 4-2 victory over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern June 16. The Mustangs finished the season with a 22-0-1 overall record.

The Bloomfield Hills Marian team poses with the Division 2 state title trophy following a 4-2 victory over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern June 16. The Mustangs finished the season with a 22-0-1 overall record.

Photo by Timothy Pontzer

Marian finishes unbeaten season with state title repeat

The Mustangs outscored opponents by a 114-11 margin in 2018

By: Timothy Pontzer | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 16, 2018


WILLIAMSTON — For awhile, it looked like Bloomfield Hills Marian and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern would head into halftime deadlocked at one goal apiece in the Division 2 state final June 16 at Williamston High.

A mere 60 seconds later, the Mustangs held a 3-1 lead as the two sides headed off the pitch for the mid-game break. The massive swing in momentum gave Marian the means for a 4-2 victory, earning a second straight state championship and seventh title for the program since 2003.

"We preach first five and last five (minutes) in each half," Marian coach Barry Brodsky said. "Never in your wildest dreams do you think you'll go up two in the last five minutes. Both of those goals were dynamite goals."

Brodsky was referring to the final minute of the first half, which saw junior forward Jansen Eichenlaub bury a shot with 58 seconds remaining in regulation, assisted by senior midfielder Annie Bruce. 

With only eight seconds left on the scoreboard, the roles were reversed as Bruce put one in the back of the net off a helper from Eichenlaub.

"It was pretty crazy," Bruce recalled. "I'm just happy my teammates were able to get me the ball. Obviously I can't do anything by myself so I'm just happy it worked out."

The Mustangs opened the scoring a mere four minutes into regulation via a tally from sophomore forward Chloe Aberlarde with senior midfielder Claudia Schilling getting the assist. Northern tied the game with 15 minutes left in the first half.

Bruce scored again less than 8 minutes into the second half with junior midfielder Sara Stroud assisting. Northern posted the final goal of the afternoon with 20 minutes remaining.

Marian outscored opponents by a 70-8 margin in the regular season and a 40-1 advantage in the playoffs. 

"It's hard to come back against us," Brodsky said. "We haven't given up two goals since March. To come back against us after a two goal lead is difficult and to get that lead right before halftime really put us in a position to win."

The Mustangs finished the campaign with a 22-0-1 record. The tie was a 1-1 match with Farmington Hills Mercy. Overall, Marian owns a 47-game unbeaten streak that includes last year's win in the state final, which was a 2-1 win over Northern.

"At Marian, if we don't win the state championship, unfortunately people are disappointed," Brodsky explained. "But there's nowhere else I'd rather coach. I want the expectations to be that high, because then you really want to get it done. If you don't, you feel like you left something on the table."

Bruce echoed that mindset.

"That's our main goal all season," Bruce said of the state title. "We really don't consider the season successful until we win the state championship. I'm happy we were able to make it here and do that. Barry always tells us to have fun. We made it here and were so close to our main goal, but he reminded us to go out and have fun as soon as we stepped on the pitch."

Completing his 17th year at the helm of the program, the victory moved Brodsky's overall record as coach to 317-26-36.

"I can't say enough about the toughness of Marian kids," Brodsky remarked. "Our coaching staff is really tough. We're not easy to play for. Some players can't do it. We've had some players come from club and then they leave because they can't handle it. For the players that stay, they get a great experience and come out tougher. The girls just play and they don't let anything get to them. We have an unbelievable coaching staff and there a lot of voices screaming from the sideline, but they deal with it and make it happen."

Brodsky praised his senior class as Schilling, Bruce, Grace Kinna, Rayya Harb, Julia Surratt and Emme Deconinck each played their final prep game.

"We had amazing senior leadership this year. They were the six that glued the team together," Brodsky said. "Not all of them played, but they did whatever was needed. That's what you need for the good of the team. That's our secret formula. We have enough players that want to be part of the team and contribute."

The longtime coach reflected on a conversation he had with one of his star seniors two years prior.

"Two years ago when (Schilling) committed to Western Michigan, I said to her, 'I want to get a state championship before you leave,'" Brodsky recalled. "She said, 'Barry let's get two.' I'm glad that happened today."

Schilling is one of five players committed to play at the next level.

"We've got an abundance of talent," Brodsky said. "But you can go through (Division 1) and D-2 and there's a lot of teams like that. If you don't put it together, you won't win anything. These girls did that and put it together."

Brodsky also made sure to highlight his back line.

"I can't give enough credit to Anna Leonard, Neve Badalow and Sara Stroud," Brodsky said. "Those are players who maybe aren't scoring goals, but they are the heart and soul of the team in the back. They get the hardest assignments and still do a great job."

With the contest serving as a rematch of last year's title game, Brodsky made sure to have his troops ready. It marked the third straight runner-up finish for Northern in Division 2.

"We knew this was their third year in a row in the championship game," Bruce said. "They were probably looking for revenge. I'm happy we could hold them off and play our game."

Her coach agreed.

"You know (Northern) would come in even hungrier," Brodsky said. "But for us, it's a brand new team. We talked about it and how we know they'd want it, especially coming against us. But, why wouldn't we want it even more? There's seven or eight players that weren't here last year. That rematch thing is good for practice or motivation, but once the game starts that's all out the window."

The win marked the third time in Brodksy's tenure that Marian has earned back-to-back titles. He now sets his sights on a three-peat.

"We've never gone any further than back-to-back," Brodsky said. "Is there motivation to get a third straight? There definitely is. I'm too old to go a couple years and then have to try again and make it back-to-back and then try for the third. There's definitely a want to go and get three."