EAST LANSING, Mich. – When Maria Askounis put in the game-winning goal in the second overtime for Marian (Birmingham, Mich.), it was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time.
“My coach just told me to stay out front at the post, someone has to be there,” she said. “I stayed on the front post, that’s where the ball went. My teammate, Emily Rassel, got it to me at the front post, and it was easy, I just tapped it in.”
That might have been the only easy thing all afternoon for Marian (18-1), who had to come from behind to win their third consecutive Division 2 soccer state championship, 2-1, over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, whom they have beaten every year of the streak.
With 4:18 to play in the second overtime and the game seemingly headed toward a shootout, Sara Stroud took the corner kick. Rassel had the first try at putting it in the net and fanned on it, and the ball bounced around free in the goal box before Askounis could get her laces on it.
“I was just so excited, I just ran over to my teammates,” Askounis said. “There’s time ticking down on the clock, we had done it. We wanted it, we wanted to make history. I’m a sophomore and this is my second, but our seniors wanted that three-peat. To do it for them it amazing.”
“In overtime nobody wants to face a corner (kick), nobody wants to face a free kick, it’s just hard,” said Marian Coach Barry Brodsky, who has led the Mustangs to six state titles since 2003.
Meanwhile, Northern lost in the final contest for the fourth year in a row. The Huskies (19-3-1) took the early lead on their first shot of the game, five and a half minutes in, when Grace Sayers took a lead pass straight out front and put the ball inside the left post.
Marian had several first-half scoring opportunities but didn’t capitalize, so Brodsky had to keep the team calm when addressing them at halftime.
“He just told us to stay positive and just finish the game and play the Marian way, just play like we do and we’ll be good,” Rassel said.
The Mustangs got the equalizer five minutes into the second half, when Rassel took a crossing pass from Katie Sullivan at dead center and shot the ball into the upper left corner.
“I just remember trying to beat my girl and just try and put it in the net,” she said. “It was really big because we were down and it’s the second half. That goal just really set us up to finish the game and get our momentum back.”