EAST LANSING – With Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s first Division 4 girls soccer state championship on the line in a shootout, coach David Dwaihy asked for volunteers.
“There were a few that didn’t raise their hands,’’ he said after the team’s 1-0 victory, taking the shootout, 4-2, against a game Montrose team.
Most of the underclassmen raised their hands. One was freshman Kate Birgbauer.
With the Knights ahead, 3-2, in kicks, “I turned to my friend Izzy (Brusilow) and asked her are you 100% sure that you’re going to make this?’’ said Birgbauer. “She said I’m not sure. So I stepped up and took it.’’
Brusilow is also a freshman.
Game and championship.
“Her ability to step up on the big stage and get it done in a pressure situation is great,’’ said Dwaihy of Birgbauer. They (underclassmen) are courageous and a brave, confident group, especially our center-back that scored the game winner. Kate wanted it. I had a few in mind that I wanted to take the shot. I said raise your hands if you want to shoot. Hands went up and all the freshmen raised their hands. I had to turn one of them away. The quality of the shots were impressive.’’
Besides Birgbauer, sophomore Kelly Solak, junior Maddie Wu and sophomore Alexis Wenger all scored in the shootout.
Great defense ruled in this classic at Michigan State.
An apparent goal in the second overtime by Wenger was disallowed because the ball wasn’t touched on the throw in by a Liggett player by either side.
“I started calling girls over and telling them it was probably going to get called back,’’ said Dwaihy. “On a throw-in it’s technically an indirect kick. If no one touches it and it goes in it’s like scoring on an indirect kick and it’s disallowed. It needs to touch another player first. We were hoping someone had touched it first, but the refs talked about it and said it wasn’t touched, so we had to move on.
“To be honest I was kind of glad it didn’t go in because that would’ve been a weird way to win it.’’
It was the team’s first shootout of the season and that was fine with Birgbauer.
“I didn’t think we had really earned it at that point,’’ she said. “It kind of fired us up and put a fire in us after they disallowed (the goal).’’
This was destined for a shootout from the time the combatants took the field.
The Rams (23-4-1) entered the title game having allowed just one goal over their previous eight games, including five shutouts in six playoff games.
Liggett (19-2-1) had allowed just two goals in six playoff games.
“We battled, I thought it was two even teams,’’ said Montrose coach Jason Perrin. “We had chances. They had chances. Corner kicks. We had a lot of opportunities and they turned out to be our bread and butter this year. We came close. We had a header that just went over the crossbar. A couple of other good chances. I think we had 11 of them and you have to put them in. We had a breakaway there in the first half that probably should’ve went in.
“They are very similar to us. They get 10 girls behind the ball. They clog up the passing lanes. We do that. It was kind of like playing ourselves.’’