• Michigan

Born in Russia, without an arm, all-state midfielder Danae Moriarty is leading the charge on the pitch for No. 15 Plymouth Christian

By: Matthew B. Mowery, May 7, 2019, 10:45 pm

CANTON — Most often, when a player gets their two cents in with a referee, disputing a call, there’s not a lot the official can say if the player happens to have the truth on their side.

That’s especially the case when Plymouth Christian junior midfielder Danae Moriarty uses a certain rejoinder with an official, as she did in the second half of Tuesdays’ Michigan Independent Athletic Conference game against Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, after being ruled for a hand ball.

“I was like ‘Sir, how can you call a hand ball if I don’t have any hands?’” Moriarty said with a chuckle, after the game resulted in a 1-1 tie. “I just say that to anyone.”

Don’t they give her a funny look?

“Oh, definitely,” she said.

Why, you ask?

Well, for starters, she doesn’t. 

The ball in question skipped up the front of her leg, and inadvertently hit her left arm where it ends in a stump, just below the elbow. Her right arm ends in a hand that is not fully formed. 

The joke doesn’t get old, either, not for her coach, who’s heard her use it before.

“This year? Or the past three? Probably like eight — eight that I’ve heard. You can’t (respond). If you do, you’re pretty much a dirtbag, so you can’t say anything back,” Eagles coach Annette Somercik said of her junior, who is comfortable enough in her own skin to make the comment.

“Yes. She was born that way, so she’s used to it.”

And, all jokes aside, it doesn’t make a whit of difference in how Moriarty plays soccer with her feet — which she does at a very high level. She’s a large part of the reason the Hawks are unbeaten through 10 games, and ranked No. 15 in Division 4 in the last MISSCA poll.

“She’s crazy good. She plays on the academy team for Hawks. I can play her at center, I can play her on the outside — I can literally play her anywhere, and she knows what she’s doing.

She for sure should go D-I. She’ll have offers, I’m sure. She already has some,” Somercik said of her speedy junior all-stater, who led the Eagles in scoring last year and this year, with 18. “She’s insane. When she sees an opportunity, she’ll take it. And she’s very coachable, which is nice. If I say ‘The goalie’s off her line, you’ve gotta hit it,’ she’ll hit it. She’s a great player. Overall, she’s well-rounded. … She’s just that natural athlete. Super nice."

Moriarty had been on a goal-scoring spurt of late, scoring in bunches — 14 goals in a three-game span, including six in one contest — leading up to this week, when the Eagles (8-0-2, 5-0-2 MIAC) tied a pair of conference matches. 

“We’ve been playing some teams with some lower skill-level than us, so it’s been easier to mercy them. Just been taking shots when I can,” Moriarty said. “I always like to set up a player, and I know exactly what I’m going to do, so I can make space for me to shoot it or pass the ball. Basically, just trying to get that window open, where I can take shot.”

And when that window’s open?

“Definitely take the shot,” she said.

Somercik wasn’t surprised by Moriarty’s skill and athleticism, having grown up with one of her older siblings. 

“Danae’s sister and me grew up together; we were friends for a long time. So I knew Danae since she was little, and she’s been playing for Hawks forever,” the coach said. “She’s one of seven, so lots of siblings means lots of competition, and getting beat up.”

The family is composed of four biological siblings and three adopted ones. For her part, Moriarty said she’d eventually want to learn more about her origins.

“When I’m ready — probably when I’m older — I’ll definitely go back to Russia,” she said.

Moriarty tried other sports when she was younger — basketball and volleyball — and ran cross country for a while, but soccer has been her first love. 

And there’s really not anything she can’t do on the pitch — including throw-ins.

“Some refs will call her on, most won’t, because she has to tilt,” Somercik said. “Most won’t.”

The Eagles started 8-0 before the two recent ties, pushing the expectations for this season a little higher. Maybe a deep run in the playoffs?

“I definitely agree. We have a really talented team this year. A lot of girls can move the ball, and we play very well together,” Moriarty said. “I think our 8-0 run was a little unrealistic, because we started off playing easier teams, but I can definitely see us winning districts this year, maybe going a little farther.”

In Moriarty’s first-team all-state freshman season, the Eagles lost in the regional finals, 2-1 in overtime vs. Manchester, but last year lost the district opener to Grass Lake, 3-1. 

“Honestly, I was a little surprised (at the start), because I thought at some point we’d come across someone that was a little more difficult, but they seem to always step it up, and bring a lot of intensity. Honestly, it just seems like this last week, the team’s gone down a little bit. I think it’s just midseason, trying to get through — I’m hoping we bring the intensity back up,” Somercik said, noting that Tuesday’s tie was a result of that same lack of intensity at the end, when Inter-City Baptist tied it up in the final 70 seconds. “We definitely didn’t bring what we we should’ve brought overall. Most of it was on our shoulders.”

Lexi Thomason scored off a rebound of an Emma Huessner shot, giving Plymouth Christian an early 1-0 lead. Hailey Dunham took a free kick with 1:18 left, and clanged it off the crossbar. It went straight down into the scrum of players, where Emma Hamilton put it home to tie the game. 

Plymouth Christian still has a road game at Oakland Christian on Thursday, while Inter-City Baptist (7-0-1, 5-0-1 MIAC) has a game against Sterling Heights Parkway Christian.