Royal Oak Shrine girls soccer coach Mark Soma, left, celebrates with his team after the Knights beat Kalamazoo Christian in a Division 4 state final June 15 at DeMartin Stadium. Shrine captured it's first team state title since 1974 in the 4-0 win.

Royal Oak Shrine girls soccer coach Mark Soma, left, celebrates with his team after the Knights beat Kalamazoo Christian in a Division 4 state final June 15 at DeMartin Stadium. Shrine captured it's first team state title since 1974 in the 4-0 win.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Woodbeck delivers game-winner as Shrine girls soccer captures first state title

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published June 15, 2019

 Shrine defenseman Regan Smith, right, battles for possession in a D-4 state title game against Kalamazoo Christian. The Knights finished the season 22-1 overall.

Shrine defenseman Regan Smith, right, battles for possession in a D-4 state title game against Kalamazoo Christian. The Knights finished the season 22-1 overall.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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EAST LANSING — Before the season started, Royal Oak Shrine girls soccer coach Mark Soma was having a conversation with Chloe Woodbeck.

Woodbeck had spent time playing travel soccer with the Michigan Hawks.

Soma’s sales pitch to get Woodbeck to play for her school team was simple. Come play for the Knights, and we’ll get you a state title.

Woodbeck joined in and scored the game-winning goal in the Division 4 state final as the Knights beat Kalamazoo Christian 4-0 June 15 at DeMartin Stadium.

“It’s unreal. I can’t stop smiling,” junior goalkeeper Allison LaPoint said. “It still hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m sure it will when I get home.”

The win marks the first time a Shrine team has taken home a state title since the boys track team won back-to-back championships in 1973 and 1974. This is the first girls team sport championship in the school’s history.

Ever since the 2016 season, the Knights have exited the postseason in the district final. In fact, the district final has been the Knights’ kryptonite in six of the last seven years. But the team was able to put it all together this season, and LaPoint offered some perspective as to why.

“Just the heart,” the Central Michigan commit` said. “Everybody wanted it — every single person on the team, whether they played or they didn’t. We all wanted it, and I think that was the biggest thing. It’s not all just talent, we put in so much work for this.”

Woodbeck’s goal opened the scoring in the 15th minute. The senior was awarded a set piece near the left-hand corner of the field. The ensuing free kick beat the outstretched hands of Comet goaltender Jenna Blackwell, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead.

Shrine’s second goal of the half came just over 10 minutes later when Jess Reaume sent a crossing pass to Lily Hotts who tucked the ball home on the far side of the net, and Shrine led 2-0 heading into the break.

It was more of the same in the second half for the Knights. Bridgette Drouillard and Regan Robinson added goals to put the game out of reach.

As impressive as the offense was for the Knights, recording 16 shots, eight on goal, the defense stepped up and never allowed the Comets to gain any sort of momentum.

Leading Shrine’s defense was center back Mary Mulcahy. The sophomore chased down two Comet defenders at different points in the game, not allowing them to register a shot on LaPoint.

Mulcahy didn’t start the season at the center back position. However, an injury thrust her into a starting role, and her efforts were noticed by her coach.

“Mary is probably our most improved player because she wasn’t our center back for most of the year,” he said. “I think she said she wasn’t really expecting to be in that position, and she’s played excellent all season. She’s had a great year.”

A strong backline makes for a confident goaltender. The Comets recorded just four shots on goal all game, all of which — including a one-on-one save against Kalamazoo’s Lauryn Mohney early in the second half — were turned aside.

LaPoint let in just 10 goals all season long and one in the postseason, which came in a district game against Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

Woodbeck, Katie Norton and Mia Ciarlone are the three seniors who ended their Shrine careers with a state title. The Knights will return the majority of their roster next season, including a core group of juniors.

Though Woodbeck will depart from the program and move on to play college soccer at Purdue University, the senior believes the team has what it takes to repeat as state champs.

“I think after this year, the confidence level is so high,” she said. “I think they can do it again, even with our three seniors leaving, because we have 11 juniors and they’re all very strong; they carry our midfield. I think they’re going to be just fine.”

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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