MADISON HEIGHTS — Royal Oak Shrine girls soccer coach Mark Soma wondered aloud before the start of Saturday’s CHSL Division C-D match against Wixom St. Catherine of Siena: “You know what’s the most difficult thing to do in sports?”

He then answered his own question: “To beat a team three times in a season.”

C-D championship: Shrine 5, St. Catherine 2

Wonder no more, Coach Soma. The Knights won the season’s third encounter against St. Catherine, and much easier than the final score indicates, for their first C-D trophy since 2016.

Five different players solved the Star’s porous defense to fire 21 shots on goal (and several more that were wide of the mark) upon frazzled goalie Madeline Rodgers for a 5-0 lead — before the Stars were able to shoot one ball on goal, not until deep into the second half, in the game’s 75th minute.

That was a penalty kick converted by Natalie Kalanik, who scored again two minutes later for the Star’s total offensive output.

Junior Regan Robinson’s kick from about 25 yards out opened Shrine’s scoring, followed by junior Hannah Groth’s rebound of a ball Rodgers partially blocked to give Shrine a 2-0 halftime lead.

Shrine combined firepower and a stingy defense to beat St. Catherine for the C-D girls soccer trophy. (Courtesy of Heidi Plaskey)

Five minutes into the second half, Clara North made it a 3-0 game. Senior Chloe Woodbeck forced her way into the net for her 26th goal of the season, and Jess Reaume wound up the Knights’ offense with 14 minutes to play.

St. Catherine’s first year coaches Taylor Shrader and assistant Domenique Sarnecky were understandably subdued. Shrader, a 2013 Farmington Hills Mercy alum, and Sarnecky, a 2013 Livonia Ladywood alum, both played at Albion College.

“We just had too much talent,” said Soma, who will face a similar conundrum when Shrine opens state playoff action this week against Bishop Foley — a team the Knights have beaten twice this spring.

A-B championship: Marian 1, Regina 0

A couple of hours earlier, in the A-B Division opener of this championship doubleheader at Bishop Foley, no one asked — perhaps, dared to ask — Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Barry Brodsky or his counterpart, Stefano Moraccini, of Warren Regina: “Could the same thing happen today that happened nine days ago when these two teams met?”

Marian visited Regina’s campus May 9 unbeaten in 57 games in a row, dating back to their last loss in the state semi-final in 2016: a perfect 24-0 in 2017, 22-0-1 in 2018, and 10-0 this spring. The victories included Division 2 state titles and CHSL championships, and perhaps a half-dozen, if not more, against Regina.

But not this time. The Saddlelites shocked Marian, 1-0, on a goal by sophomore Madison Oakie with about 20 minutes to play. Another sophomore, goalie Olivia DeSanto, was rock-solid minding the net.

“It’s been a good season. We’re prepared,” was all Brodsky said before Saturday’s encounter. “I don’t like talking to the press before a game.”

Abigail Lucchesi directed a corner kick by Sara Stroud past DeSanto at 7:26 of the first half to give Marian what turned out to be the game winner, 1-0, and their third CHSL title in a row.

Senior goalie Megan Kraus and a strong Mustangs defense limited Regina to just six shots on goal for the game.

Brodsky commissioned his assistant coach, Peter Hensold, for post-game platitudes: “We carried the momentum. Every game is a challenge. You can’t look ahead.”

“I think the nerves got us in the first half,” Moraccini said. “We came out on fire (in the game Regina won). We played our game plan all 80 minutes. We settled down today in the second half, but we couldn’t capitalize our opportunities.”

A footnote — Chances are good that these teams will be playing for CHSL championships down the line. Consider the youth on their rosters: Marian, 7 sophomores, 2 freshmen; Regina, 5 sophomores, 9 freshmen; Shrine, 8 sophomores and 3 freshmen; St. Catherine, 10 sophomores, 2 freshmen. Each also fields JV squads.


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