Marine City senior Olivia Viney gains possession over St. Clair sophomore Marren Kruskie during a soccer same Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at East China Stadium.
EAST CHINA TWP. – Olivia Viney blocked out all the noise.
The Marine City senior placed the ball on the penalty spot, paid no attention the jeers from a St. Clair crowd which clearly felt the penalty was unearned, and focused on one thing: puttting her team ahead.
Viney came through, and that goal was the difference in the Mariners’ 1-0 Macomb Area Conference Gold Division win against St. Clair Wednesday night at East China Stadium.
“I had never taken a penalty kick against (St. Clair keeper Morgan Kronner), so she didn’t know what I was going to do,” Viney said. “I tried to block out their fans, and just come to the ball straight on, not let her know what I was thinking and just bury it in the corner. I knew it was a big moment, but I couldn’t over-think it, or I was going to mess up.”
The win gave Marine City (7-1-2, 10-2-2) the Burns Trophy, and keeps it on top of the MAC Gold standings, although the Mariners have played one more game than their closest competitor, Warren Mott. Oddly enough, Marine City’s MAC Gold fate could rest in the hands of St. Clair, which will get Mott at East China Stadium May 20, a game Viney said she plans to attend. There are two more MAC Gold games left for the Mariners, however, against another rival in Marysville on Friday, and Clawson next week.
“We’re in the strange position of actually rooting for our rival next week,” Marine City coach Chris Ming said. “We still have to take care of our end. If we win out, regardless of the result that happens in the league, we (would) finish the league with one loss, and that’s pretty impressive. That’s something to be celebrated.”
The Mariners were in a celebratory mood after Wednesday’s win, a hard-fought, physical game that left both coaches happy with how their teams played, even if one wasn’t happy with the result.
“I thought our girls played a good game and played hard,” St. Clair coach Rich Kern said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty. But, hey, they got the one and we got none. I told the girls, we played hard but didn’t put the ball in the net, and we needed to do that.
“(Marine City) played strong on defense, I threw everything I could up there, but they just kept us out and played good defense.”
Marine City’s back line of Sydnee Frank, Jessica Darga, Jensen Houston and Emilie Andrews was tasked with keeping a dangerous St. Clair attack, led by Mackenzie Kent, off the board. While the Saints did have an 8-5 shot advantage, their good chances were limited.
Ashley Beattie was credited with the clean sheet for the Mariners, her biggest save of the night coming on a bending shot from Kent late in the second half.
“I think we did what was necessary,” Ming said. “There were some really tired legs out there on both sides, and I think we saw that at the end of the game. Defensively, you have to give credit to that back line, they’ve given up six totals goals all year, and that’s pretty impressive at this point in the season. They take a lot of pride in the fact they’re turning in a clean sheet every game. When you give up zero, it’s a lot easier to win the game.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.