Stoney Creek wins shootout over Novi, heads back to state final
Rochester Hills - Gina Cerny went from tears to jubilation.
A year ago Cerny was the starting goalkeeper on a team that was upset by Grand Blanc in the regional semifinals, a game that went to a shootout.
This year Cerny was the goalkeeper of record as host Rochester Hills Stoney Creek defeated No. 4-ranked Novi, 2-1, on Tuesday in a Division 1 semifinal.
This game, again, reached a shootout.
“Last year they made all of their shots and we didn’t make any against Grand Blanc,” said Cerny. “I knew that we couldn’t let that happen again.”
Cerny, a junior, stopped two of Novi’s three shooters, as the Cougars held a 4-1 edge in the penalty kicks.
Junior Amanda Harvey calmly scored on her team’s fourth shot, this one to the corner, sending Stoney Creek to the finals for the first time since 2005.
The Cougars (17-3-3) will face unranked Canton (17-2-4) on Friday at 4 p.m. at Michigan State’s DeMartin Stadium in the title match. Canton upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 2-1, in the other semifinal.
“She told me after last year’s game that she would not let it happen again,” said Stoney Creek sixth-year coach Brian Mittelstadt of Cerny. “She’s worked so hard for moments like this.”
Both teams scored late second-half goals in the conservative contest, where chances were at a premium.
Novi held a narrow 7-6 shot advantage through 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, while both teams traded off three shots directly on frame.
Stoney Creek, ranked No. 10, held a 6-5 edge on corner kicks.
Ironically, Novi (16-2-6) took a 1-0 lead on its first shot with 14:41 remaining in regulation. Junior forward Emmie Takada found a wide open Lexi Whalen in the corner of the box and Whalen, a freshman, redirected the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Stoney Creek came marching back and tied the game with 5:38 remaining. Junior Emily Solek’s corner kick into the box was flicked by freshman Amelia Kuntzman over to senior Taylor Paradoski, who scored what is a school-record 22nd goal of the season.
Both teams had chances down the stretch, with Stoney Creek junior Lyndsey Schupbach lacing a shot off the top of the crossbar with 44 seconds left in the second overtime.
“I think it’s one of those games where both teams are very good and playing not to lose. They were waiting for the other team to make a mistake and both teams were not making mistakes,” Novi coach Todd Pheiffer said. “I am so proud of my team. They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Over 100 teams started out back on May 31st and now we were in the Final Four. That’s nothing to hold our heads low about at all. We lost to a very good team in a shootout on their home turf. That program was ranked No. 1 for almost all of last season and they were ranked in the top 10 this whole season. To lose to a team like that is nothing to be ashamed of at all.”
Stoney Creek reached the Division 2 final in 2005 during the school’s third year of existence, falling to Forest Hills Central, 3-0. The Cougars moved up to Division 1 the following season and have finally made a return trip 11 years later, this time in the state’s toughest division.
“(Former coach) Erin Rodgers did a great job back in D-2. We have been good in D-1 for a few years now and finally made it back,” said Mittelstadt, whose team has defeated four ranked teams in the tournament. “It’s a program thing. We have a good team every year. It’s a good soccer community, good kids in the program. This year were able to make a run.”