Pontiac Notre Dame Prep coach Jim Stachura proudly mentioned that 11 of his 15 soccer players on the Vardar club team were still playing in the high school state tournament.
“We have a tournament on the 24th in San Diego, the Elite Club National League Under 17,” he said before Wednesday’s Div. 2 semifinal showdown with Birmingham Marian at Novi.
“We won’t have time to practice.”
Four of his Vardar players play for Marian: Junior forwards Elaina Eckert and Ellie DeConinck, senior goalkeeper Kaitlin Patouhas and junior midfielder Marian Kaschalk.
Two of his own players also play for Vardar: senior midfielder Erika Wiest and junior defenseman Nadia Burbank.
He might want to recruit Notre Dame sophomore Celia Gaynor for his club team.
Gaynor scored the lone goal in the Fighting Irish’s 1-0 victory, avenging their only loss of the season and propelling Stachura and company to Saturday’s 4 p.m. championship game at Michigan State.
“That situation was actually something that we watched what they did the first time we played them,” said Stachura. “We had some success with it and we just didn’t finish the ball. There was a little bit of a hitch with them getting out of their own zone and everybody was looking for offsides, and the backside player kept everybody onside. Cecila finished that off. That’s a world-class goal.”
Notre Dame (20-1-3) lost to Marian, 1-0, during the season, but Wednesday Gaynor knocked the ball in on a waist high-shot with an assist from Eileen Haig at the 6:26 mark.
“We wanted the first goal,” said Gaynor. “We wanted to put the pressure on first and get that first lead. We felt the game would be easier. The pass was great. I was surprised. I was shocked. I put my mind to it. It was great.”
The goal stood up despite the Mustangs forcing the action for most of the first half without a score.
Marian (16-3-2) had a chance early in the second period but DeConinck’s shot sailed to the left of the net for a near miss.
Burbank manned the Irish’s back-line defense with her quickness and speed, keeping the Mustangs from mounting a serious attack with her ability to read the play in front of her and react.
“At the start of the game, I kind of wanted to get our team together to be tight on everyone,” said Burbank. “The role that I play, I cover for everyone if someone gets by. I try to help them out as much as I can back there. I’m really proud of my defensive lineup. We are kind of a family back there. We make sure we’re tight on everyone.
“Playing them in years past we always know what to expect from them.”
And Marian coach Barry Brodsky knows what to expect from Burbank.
“She’s fantastic, I’ve watched her for three years,” said Brodsky. “They got the early goal and they’re very good defensively. We had a couple of chances, but we couldn’t cash in. You get only one or two chances a game you have to make sure you score when you get it.”