• All

Mattawan tops Divine Child in penalty kicks to win first state championship

By: Dan Stickradt, November 5, 2016, 8:33 pm
(Photo Courtesy: Michigan High School Athletic Association)
ROCHESTER HILLS — The lonely kicker.
Jarrett Hageman felt the singleness of his situation walking up to the penalty spot with the biggest opportunity during the final game of his high school career — all eyes on him and the what seemed like the weight of the world resting on his shoulders.
Hageman, a senior forward from Mattawan, lifted his head and nervously took his kick in a shootout on the grand stage at Rochester Stoney Creek High School.
His blast rang off the left goal post and into the goal to become the biggest goal of his prep career. That also resulted in 11th-ranked Mattawan winning its first-ever MHSAA Division 2 state championship in a 1-0 triumph over unranked Dearborn Divine Child.
“I was never so scared as I was walking up there to take the shot,” admitted Hageman. “I mean, I was so nervous.
“You dream about being (in this position), taking a (last) shot in a shootout,” continued Hageman. “I knew in my heart that I could make it, but I thought I’d missed because it hit the goal post. Thankfully, it went in and we finally won a state championship.”
Mattawan won the shootout 4-3, making its first, third, fourth and fifth shots to prevail. Daniel Simon, Dylan Burkett, Tate Rosenhagen and Hageman scored in the shootout for the Wildcats (22-4-2). 
Divine Child converted its first three kicks only to see its final two attempts sail over the crossbar. Alex Higgins, Shane Ciucci and Justin Stack finished their penalties for the Falcons.
Mattawan’s history featured Final Four runs in 1989, 2011 and 2015 and several other state-ranked teams dating back to the late 1980s. Even the Wildcats’ 1990 squad entered the postseason ranked second in Class B only to fall short in regional play. 
“We came close in (2015 and 2011), and although I was at a different school (Parchment) way back when, the school got to the semis before I got here,” noted coach Kirt Brown, who is 149-75-23 in 11 seasons at Mattawan. “We finally got it done this time. 
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” continued Brown. “This was somewhat of an ugly game. We scrapped and fought. You could see that both teams were tired in the second overtime. It’s wasn’t pretty. But I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”
Last season’s squad reached the state semifinals before bowing out to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (4-2). That was behind an offensive juggernut that tallied 102 goals as a team. This year’s unit won on stifling defense and an opportunistic offense that outscored the opposition 55-19.
During its postseason run, Mattawan upended four ranked teams, including a 2-0 upset of No. 1-ranked East Lansing in the state semifinals. 
“We knew we had a good team, but I think when we defeated East Lansing, that’s when we believed it,” offered Brown. “We didn’t have an easy road, either. We beat (Stevensville) Lakeshore in the opening round and they were ranked. We beat Marshall and Holland in the regionals and they were ranked. Then there was the win against East Lansing. Divine Child might has well been ranked. They made great run to get here, too.” 
Hageman and this year’s Wildcats now hold the upper hand over all former great teams in Mattawan’s lore.  
“Last year we were even better, more skilled,” said Hageman. “But the seniors this year have something that no other (senior class) has and that’s a state championship.”
In the defensive struggle, Divine Child held a narrow 13-10 total shots edge, including 8-5 with shots directly on frame. Mattawan countered and held an 11-5 edge with cornerkicks but could not beat Divine Child’s Evan Mazurek, one of the state’s top junior goalkeepers, until the shootout.
Mattawan senior Casey Kirkbride notched his team’s 14th shutout of the campaign, finishing with eight saves throughout 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods.
“The defenses both played great, both goalkeepers played really well,” said Brown. “When you get to a shootout, anything can happen.”
Divine Child went from an unknown team with a 6-7-4 record in the regular season to a worthy state finals opponent. The Falcons (12-8-4) knocked off No. 13 Dexter in the regional semifinals and also blanked Fenton in the state semifinals — and Fenton spent some time in the top 20 this season.
With 11 of the top 20 teams going down in the district week, Divine Child took advantage and made its Cinderella-style run.
“It was an amazing run by our guys,” said Divine Child coach Dean Kowalski. “I think we were just on the cusp of being a great team. We finally put things together (in the tournament) and made a run.”
Divine Child had outscored its six previous tournament opponents 19-1 before stalling out against Mattawan. 
“I didn’t mind being under the radar a little bit,” added Kowalski. “When we saw a lot of very good teams go down, we thought we might have a chance. We knew the talent was there. Defensively, we were very solid. We only gave up one goal in the tournament until the shootout. If we came back on Sunday and played again in another shootout, maybe it would end differently.”
Both goalies made several key plays to keep the game scoreless. 
Mazurek came through in the clutch by leaping to his left to punch away a 22-yard blast from Mattawan’s Evan Marquess with 4:18 to play in the second half. 
School                                1  2  OT OT SO  F
Mattawan                             0 0   0   0     4     1
Dearborn Divine Child         0  0   0   0    3     0
Shootout: Mattawan 4, Divine Child 3
Total Shots: Mattawan 10; Divine Child 13
Shots On Frame: Mattawan 5; Divine Child 8
Cornkerkicks: Mattawan 11; Divine Child 5
Saves: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan, 8; Evan Mazurek, DDC, 5
Fouls Against: Mattawan 10; Divine Child 9
Offsides: Mattawan 0; Divine Child 1
Records: Mattawan 22-4-2; Divine Child 12-8-4