Williamston — Birmingham Marian senior forward Ellie Deconinck had been here before. As a freshman, Deconinck scored the lone goal for Marian in a one-goal loss to Richland Gull Lake in the 2014 Division 2 state championship game.
This time around finding the back of the net meant a little more.
Deconinck scored twice in the second half for Marian as it won its first state title since 2012 and sixth in school history with a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern.
“Our team has worked so hard over the last three years to get back here,” Deconinck said. “To be able to win a state championship is beyond words.”
Marian capped its perfect season at 24-0. It’s the second time under 17-year head coach Barry Brodsky that he’s finished a season undefeated (2004).
“It’s a credit to the girls that they were able to come back,” Brodsky said. “You’ve got to have some luck with you, but that first goal in the second half got us off the snide and we were able to relax.”
After dominating the pace of play in the first half, Marian still found itself down at halftime. Forest Hills Northern freshman Addie Brown chipped in a goal just under the crossbar and just out of the reach of Marian goalie Isabel Hayes midway through the first half. It was the first time Marian had given up a goal in the state tournament and first time it trailed in a game this season.
Marian outshot previously undefeated Forest Hills Northern, 8-4, in a first half that was filled with plenty of bad luck. Forest Hills Northern had four goal-line clearances behind goalie Amanda Young in the opening half.
“The first half of this game was some of the best soccer we’ve played this season,” Deconinck said. “We wanted to make sure everyone kept their heads up because we were doing a great job.”
Marian kept the pressure on in the second half. Deconinck’s first goal came less than two minutes into the second half when she rebounded her own shot from 12 yards out and finished past Young.
The winner came on an Anna Leonard shot that went off the crossbar and fell right into Deconinck’s lap, where she put it home in the far left corner of the net.
For Forest Hills Northern (20-1-3), it was the second straight year the school led in the state title game before succumbing to an opponent in the second half. Last year, coach Daniel Siminski’s squad fell to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep after a free kick with 40 seconds left tied the game at 1-1 and forced overtime. Forest Hills Northern lost that game in a shootout.
“Of course when you make it this far you want to win it,” Siminski said. “But you can’t be too upset when you go undefeated and your first loss is in the state finals. That’s a hell of a team and they wore us down in the second half.”
It was the third time Forest Hills Northern had made an appearance and lost in the state championship game.
Flint Powers Catholic 4, Freeland 0: Behind three first half goals, Flint Powers Catholic left little doubt as it won its second Division 3 girls soccer championship.
Freshman Kennedy Myers struck twice in the game’s first 21 minutes as Powers (26-1-2) outshot Freeland 6-2 in the first half and 8-4 overall.
Senior defender Emilie Pechette scored less than two minutes after Myers’ second goal, while senior Gabrielle Amato put the icing on the cake 20 minutes into the second half.
The championship is Powers’ first since 2011. It lost in the championship game to Hudsonville Unity Christian in 2012 and 2016. Freeland finished the season 23-2.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.
Birmingham Marian 2, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 1
Flint Powers Catholic 4, Freeland 0
Grand Blanc vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 4 p.m.
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Lansing Christian, 1 p.m.