Regina soccer upsets No. 2 Marian in Catholic League semifinals

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published May 18, 2016

 Regina's Claudia Casagrande settles the ball down during Wednesday night's game in Berkley. Regina will face Notre Dame Prep in Saturday's Catholic League final. The teams tied their only meeting this season 0-0.

Regina's Claudia Casagrande settles the ball down during Wednesday night's game in Berkley. Regina will face Notre Dame Prep in Saturday's Catholic League final. The teams tied their only meeting this season 0-0.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

BERKLEY — There is another game to be played, a much steeper award on the line Saturday afternoon.

But for one night, Ryan Elchuk and his Warren Regina soccer team were certainly going to enjoy this.

“This is a pretty big win,” Elchuk said with a smile shortly after his girls handed Birmingham Marian its first loss of the season, a 1-0 decision in Wednesday night’s Catholic League semifinal at Hurley Field in Berkley. “It’s not the ultimate, but in the grand scheme of things, for the program and the individuals who’ve been around for a while, this is a tremendous step toward where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Marian entered the game unbeaten on the season and ranked No. 2 in Division 2 in the latest coaches association poll.

But it was Regina, ranked No. 10 in D-2, that caught the game’s first, and maybe only, real break, when senior Samantha Stehlin slammed home a goal with just 17 seconds remaining in the first half.

Regina went to the locker room leading 1-0, and as Elchuk explained, knowing Marian wasn’t going to go quietly.

And the Mustangs didn’t, noticeably dominating play the entire second half.

Asked if the field seemed tilted against his girls the final 40 minutes, Elchuk smiled saying, “absolutely.”

“We know they were good and deep and were going to come out rolling,” he added. “We felt we’d spend a lot of time on our heals, but that was all right. We did some of the little things, won some of the key balls, and that’s something this team can do.”

Marian had plenty of close calls down the stretch, but failed to find the equalizer.

“They deserved it. They outworked us. They wanted it more, and it showed,” Marian coach Barry Brodksy said. “In a knockout-type game, when you have an opportunity, you have to finish. They had theirs, and they finished.”

Brodsky said this marks the first time in his tenure as coach that the Mustangs won’t play for a Catholic League title.

The program has won 10 in the past 12 years.

That fact wasn’t lost on Elchuk, though he cautioned against getting too caught up in the victory.

“It’s not the ultimate goal, and one thing we don’t want to do is be so excited to win the semi that you forget what you’re really in this for,” he said. “Our senior class of eight has beaten every school except for Marian, and we’ve never been to a final, so that’s another first. But the ultimate goal is to win the Catholic League title, and we have a very good (Pontiac) Notre Dame Prep team to get ready for.”

Regina, which entered Wednesday’s game 0-1-1 against Marian, faced Prep once this season, a 0-0 draw.

The teams play for the D-I/II title at 3 p.m. May 21 at Madonna University.

“We’ll treat Notre Dame Prep the exact same way we treated Marian,” Elchuk added. “They’re very good. They're well coached. They can play. They’re athletic. We have to make sure we’re focused and willing and prepared to do all the same things we did tonight.”

Prep (12-1-3) defeated Livonia Ladywood in the other semifinal.