Division 2 soccer: Eichenlaub watches as Marian sophomores take over for title
East Lansing — With a hobbled hamstring, Bloomfield Hills Marian senior Jansen Eichenlaub changed her game, picking her spots this postseason.
When the pain became too much to bear late in Friday’s Division 2 final against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, the Miss Soccer candidate had to take on a completely different role as cheerleader.
She watched as sophomore teammate Maria Askounis netted the winner with 4:18 left in the second overtime, lifting Marian to a 2-1 victory, giving coach Barry Brodsky his eighth state title and first “three-peat.”
“We knew that we could get another one if we worked hard and defended and attacked the flanks like we’ve been stressing,” said Eichenlaub, who will play at Virginia. “It’s really tough, but I knew they could do it.
“They didn’t need me.”
That might’ve been true after Eichenlaub missed the final 20 minutes of regulation and the overtime sessions, but the senior has been instrumental to Marian’s march, scoring 23 goals this season.
Eichenlaub and a handful of veterans crowded the field of Marian’s three-time champs, a distinction previously only held by Makenzie Larson and Alexa Finger, who played from 2009-12.
“Now they’ve got got company finally,” said Brodsky, whose teams lost their district opener the previous two times Marian tried for a “three-peat.”
On Friday, Forest Hills Northern (19-3-1) opened the scoring in the sixth minute as Grace Sayers finished an Alyssa Greshak cross.
Sophomore Emily Rassel knotted the score in the 45th minute for Marian (18-1) on a cross from Eichenlaub that was also assisted by Katie Sullivan.
In the second overtime, Sara Stroud sent a corner kick into the penalty area that was deflected by Rassel and finished by Askounis on the doorstep.
Askounis said Eichenlaub delivered inspiring words for the team leading up to the overtimes.
“She told us to just keep working, keep going, play as a family, and just go with God,” Askounis said. “We just got to keep faith in each other.
“We wanted to make history. Our seniors wanted that three-peat. To do it for them, to do it for our team, it’s amazing.”
Goalkeeper Megan Kraus had five saves for Marian, and Parker Hutchinson had six in the loss, including a breakaway stop midway through the first overtime.
The loss was the fourth straight in the state final for coach Dan Siminski and Forest Hills Northern.
“I can only imagine what it is for Forest Hills Northern, but for them to get here four years in a row is unbelievable,” Brodsky said. “These aren’t easy games: You win in shootouts, you win in overtime, you win one goal, you’ve got to have something going for you on the coaching end that makes it work, and they’ve got it.
“They just ran into us, and we’re pretty good.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer
Girls soccer finals
At DeMartin Soccer Complex, Michigan State, East Lansing
Bloomfield Hills Marian 2, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 1, OT
Grand Rapids South Christian 3, Essexville Garber 0
Novi vs. Plymouth, 4 p.m.
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Royal Oak Shrine, 1 p.m.