University Liggett overcomes slow start to beat Stoney Creek, advance to D2 regional title game
PONTIAC — The way Wednesday’s regional semifinal started, with his Cougars jumping out to a 3-0 lead 10 minutes in, Stoney Creek coach Dale Coats just had his fingers crossed it would continue.
On the other bench, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett coach Jennifer Larson had seen it before, and knew she just needed to ride it out, and things would shift.
It did, as the Knights tied it up in less than two minutes, then capitalized on Stoney Creek’s second-half scoring drought to pull away, eventually running the final 2:42 off the clock to close out a 13-10 win.
“It was a little of both. I think we changed some things about how we were doing the draw, and who we had on the draw circle, and that helped,” Larson said. “But yeah, sometimes that happens to us, where we start kind of slow, and it takes us the first 10 or 15 minutes to get into it. But we can usually work it out.”
So is she used to the slow starts?
“I’m still not, but they are,” she said with a laugh.
University Liggett (14-2) advances to Saturday’s Division 2 regional championship game, where it will face two-time defending D2 champion Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood. The game is slated for noon at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
The way things started, Stoney Creek (11-8) had good reason to think it might be going on to that game.
“We had such a nice start. I was like ‘Oh, yes! This is great!’ I didn’t sub a whole lot, tried to keep things going the way they were going,” Coats said. “Three-nothing was a great start. Thought we were going to do great things, but sort of fell apart.”
Sydney LaPrairie got the Cougars on the board just 84 seconds into the game, and that advantage would last until Maggie Dunn scored her first of four goals with 13:52 left first half, tying it up at 3-3. Lily DiPanni’s goal 22 seconds later put Stoney Creek back ahead, but that — despite six more ties — would be the final time the Cougars would be ahead on the scoreboard.
The two teams traded goals until Emma Wujek’s second goal put Liggett up 7-6 with 2:41 left in the half. Delanie Goniweicha’s goal for Stoney with 18:50 left in the game tied it at 9-9, but the Cougars wouldn’t score again for nearly 14 minutes, as Liggett took a lead, and extended it out with four straight goals to lead 13-9 by the 7:12 mark.
Stoney Creek had its chances in that stretch, but at one point hit the goalie square on with three straight shots.
“We had a lot of shots on net — I think we had 26 shots on goal. Gotta put in a few more probably. Defense struggled a little bit at times, but we went on a 14-minute dry spell there in the second half — they scored three, we scored zero, unfortunately. That’s rough,” Coats said. “I think our girls got down a little bit. You know, go down by three and they get that depressed look, sort of. So we called timeout, tried to pump them up a little bit. It was tough. Not the way I wanted to lose.”
DiPanni scored with 2:42 left to break the drought, but the Knights got possession after the ensuing draw, and ran out the clock to preserve the three-goal lead.
“I think that’s when we’re playing at our best,” Larson said. “We’ll build up a lead — that game was actually closer than the other ones — but yeah, they’re pretty good at stalling. It doesn’t seem to stress them out. They seem to never drop the ball when that happens, so yeah, they’re pretty comfortable with that.”
LaPrairie and DiPanni had three goals each to lead Stoney Creek, while Wujek and Dunn had four apiece for Liggett, and Elise Buhl and Delaney Garvey both chipped in two.
“I think just really seeing the depth that this team has: multiple people can score, multiple people can get assists, so even trying to eliminate one person on our team opens up opportunities for other people,” Larson said. “I’m reminded of that every game, but tonight was a particularly good example.”
— First half —
SC — Sydney LaPrairie, 23:36 (1-0 SC)
SC — Lily Scott, 18:36 (2-0 SC)
SC — Maddie Rizzo, 15:27 (3-0 SC)
UL — Delaney Garvey, 14:52 (3-1 SC)
UL — Emma Wujek, 14:19 (3-2 SC)
UL — Maggie Dunn, 13:52 (3-3 tie)
SC — Lily DiPanni, 13:30 (4-3 SC)
UL — Dunn, 9:26 (4-4 tie)
UL — Dunn, 7:01 (5-4 UL)
SC — LaPrairie, 6:32 (5-5 tie)
UL — Dunn, 4:42 (6-5 UL)
SC — LaPrairie, 3:25 (6-6 tie)
UL — Wujek, 2:41 (7-6 UL)
— Second half —
SC — Katelyn Zajac, 23:50 (7-7 tie)
UL — Elise Buhl, 22:33 (8-7 UL)
SC — DiPanni, 21:21 (8-8 tie)
UL — Wujek, 18:59 (9-8 UL)
SC — Delanie Goniweicha, 18:50 (9-9 tie)
UL — Abby Doppke, 16:02 (10-9 UL)
UL — Garvey, 12:10 (11-9 UL)
UL — Wujek, 11:10 (12-9 UL)
UL — Buhl, 7:12 (13-9 UL)
SC — DiPanni, 2:42 (13-10 UL)
Stoney Creek — Sydney LaPrairie 3, Lily DiPanni 3,
University Liggett — Emma Wujek 4, Maggie Dunn 4, Elise Buhl 2, Delaney Garvey 2