Stoney Creek wins first state soccer title, 1-0 over Canton
(PHOTO COURTESY: MHSAA)
East Lansing – Brian Mittelstadt has the upmost confidence in Emily Solek.
There’s a simple reason. The Rochester Hills Stoney Creek junior does not fold under pressure.
Solek, a junior, scored perhaps the greatest goal of her career on Friday giving her team a 1-0 victory over Canton in the Division 1 final at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Stadium.
It marked the school’s first state title in girls soccer and just second in all sports. The Cougars won the Division 1 title in competitive cheer in 2010.
“We have a lot of great penalty kick takers, but to be honest she’s probably our best,” Mittelstadt said. “She’s a very confident player.”
The Cougars (18-3-3) controlled play for most of the 80 minutes, holding an 12-4 edge in shots, including 9-1 with shots on frame. And they held a 5-1 differential on corner kicks.
But it wasn’t until Solek, on her 17th birthday, finally put the Cougars over the hump with a goal with 10:56 remaining in the second half.
The play developed when junior Lindsey Schupbach lofted a long ball into the goal box and freshman Sarah DeGrendel was tripped up from behind in the box making a run to the ball.
Solek left no doubt by burying the ensuing penalty kick inside the right post for her ninth goal of the season.
“I don’t mind taking them,” Solek said. “But a million things are going on in my head. I have the same routine each time, so I just put it in the corner like I do every time.
“We practice PKs at every practice. I’m just pretty confident in (taking) them.”
Mittelstadt said his team took a different approach this season, unlike last year when the Cougars were ranked No. 1 for most of the season before being upset in a regional semifinal to Grand Blanc.
“We have a great soccer community and we’re always filtering in great players each year,” he said. “I think the big difference this season was that this group really took it one game at a time and did not look ahead. We had some things to work out early in the season and there were a couple of rough games, but we kept getting better and better and peaked at the right time.”
Stoney Creek last played in a state finals in 2005, at the tail end of the school’s third year of existence. That came in Division 2 and ended with a 3-0 loss to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
This time the Cougars left with a dominating performance and a state title in hand.
“This is a great feeling. What else is there to say,” added Mittelstadt. “It was two very good teams going at it the whole game. It was very physical. Fortunately we had the ball in their end most of the second half and we were able to get one in with about 10 minutes to play.”
Canton had three attempts in the first 15 minutes of the contest, but all of those shots sailed harmlessly away from the goal. The Chiefs, who fell out of the top 15 just before the start of the tournament, finally got off a shot with 3:05 remaining in the contest when junior Abigail Heyde lofted a long shot right at Stoney Creek keeper Gina Cerny.
That was the only save Cerny recorded in her 10th shutout of the campaign. The Cougars outscored their postseason opposition 12-2 over seven games.
“It was a great run,” said Solek. “We had to beat some very good teams to be here.”
Canton, which slipped to 3-4 all-time in title game matches, struggled to ignite much of an offense. The foul on the game-winning play was an unlucky call against the Chiefs.
Jordan Anheuser made eight saves for Canton.
“It was a rough way to lose, but the ref was in the box and I wasn’t. The ref calls what he calls,” Canton coach Jeannine Reddy said. “Complaining about calls won’t do any good. It was rough going down that way, but someone had to come out winning.
“Our goalie played outstanding. I have three goalies, but Jordan was our (starting) goalie in the tournament and she did a great job getting us here. She always steps up.”
Stoney Creek nearly took the lead with 35:29 left in the game when Solek ripped a shot off the top of the crossbar. The Cougars kept the throttle down and continued to pressure Anheuser and the Chiefs until netting the goal in the 69th minute.
“We kept pressuring them and I knew if we kept working hard that something would give,” said Mittelstadt. “We played a great half of soccer.”