Some would chalk up Northville’s 2-1 state championship victory over Utica Eisenhower to game management, midfield play or defensive adjustments. Of course, being in the right place at the right time helped greatly, too.
Jamie Cheslik scored the eventual game-winner and assisted on Megan Buckingham’s first-half tally, as the Mustangs completed an undefeated season with their 23rd straight win.
Northville struck early in winning its first state title in 10 years, getting on the board 9 minutes into the game on the Cheslik-to-Buckingham sequence.
“I passed Jamie the ball, she took a shot, and the goalkeeper just deflected it wide and backwards, so I followed up and ran in and just placed it on the ground,” Buckingham said.
“I took the shot and she just happened to be right where the rebound was, and it was just perfect placement,” Cheslik said. “She did everything that she could for it, and it was awesome placement, awesome timing. All together it was a great goal.”
Cheslik put the Mustangs up 2-0 on an unassisted goal midway through the second half.
“I just pressured the ball, hoping what happened happened,” she said. “The defender just went to kick it and I ran through it and it tumbled in between us. I got a touch and put it past the goalie and placed it in the net.”
Cheslik, who has signed with Michigan State, and Buckingham, bound for North Carolina, have scored 58 or Northville’s 75 goals this season. But even with two Division I players, Northville still had to shut down Eisenhower’s front line.
“We got two goals, but I didn’t think that was going to be enough, because Ike’s an outstanding offensive team,” Northville coach Eric Brucker said. “With their record through the playoffs of four or five goals a game, we weren’t going to be shocked if they scored on us, but since these guys are smart they didn’t let it faze them and we kept doing what we were doing.”
Eisenhower (18-2-2) finally did get a goal from Paige Duda with 8 minutes to play, and turned up the heat for the remainder of the contest.
“We were worried about some of their players,” Cheslik said. “Everybody kept telling us that they were one of the best offensive teams that we were going to play, so we kind of rearranged our outside midfielders and changed where we would attack from. It was hard to get used to that but after the half we did a much better job of that.”
It was only the fifth goal that Northville had allowed all season.
“We came back and scored the goal that we needed to, but you know what, we ran out of time,” Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar said. “They have nothing to be ashamed of. I told them to keep their heads up, and we’ll be back again.”