EAST LANSING – With 10 minutes, 56 seconds left in regulation of the Division 1 soccer championship game between Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Canton, Stoney Creek’s Emily Solek was awarded a penalty when a teammate was pushed to the ground.
After missing a chance minutes earlier, Solek, on her birthday, calmly planted the ball into the right corner of the net to give the Cougars the game’s only goal and the school’s first soccer championship in the 1-0 victory.
“This means everything; nobody expected us to come this far, it feels surreal right now,’’ said Solek. “Lindsey (Schupbach) block played the ball in and then Nicole Eichberger drew the foul. I shot the PK.’’
A play that left in bitter taste in the mouth of Canton goalie Jordan Anheuser.
“I think we played a hard game and it should have gone into overtime,’’ said Anheuser. “It should have gone to PKs. I think they are a talented team and they played very hard. I think that the refs interfered with the game and the end. The refs helped the result. The ball was played in and as the ball went out of bounds, my defender Mary Galm stepped in front of the ball. She just stepped in front of the player. She didn’t touch her or shove her with her hands. She was just trying to get there first. I didn’t see anything wrong with the play.’’
Canton, making its seventh appearance in the state final, finished runner-up in 1992, 1993 and 2000 and won the title in 1988, 1996 and 2001, while the Cougars were on the prowl for their first championship.
The Cougars were runner-up in 2005 in Division 2.
With 15:45 left in the first period, Canton’s Raquel Church took a shot to the head and had to leave the game.
Minutes later Schupbach sent a laser to the goalie on a free kick, but was denied.
Play got physical as Galm received a yellow card and had to sit out two minutes.
Senior forward Taylor Paradoski also took a blow to the head and had to leave the game for the Cougars. She returned in the second half and received a caution and had to sit for two minutes.
“I was concussed and they checked me out to see if everything was all right,’’ said the jubilant senior. “This is the most amazing feeling in my entire life. I got a little beat up. I knew I had to come in and help my team out. They deserved this more than anything. I’m so unbelievably proud of our team.
“Emily is amazing at those free kicks, penalty kicks. She has been practicing them. I knew no one else should take it. She has been awesome at them in practice. And she did it on her birthday. We’ve been practicing every day, hard practices. Being here and the atmosphere and having our fans, we call them the core, getting everyone pumped up is awesome.’’
Solek’s corner kick wasn’t converted into a score with 13:12 left in regulation as overtime seemed a real possibility.
“It’s a great hard-working team; it’s a great coachable team,’’ said Stoney Creek coach Bryan Mittelstadt before the outcome. “They have great chemistry together. They’re young. They are a pretty inspired group.
“All season they’ve coming together as a team. I thought if we hit the peaks at the right time and continued to play as we were. We were always in games. We were always competing. The game of soccer can be where it turns out that way. The ball rolls the right way for you and not the other team.’’