Marian wins third straight state soccer title with overtime goal

Marian forward Chloe Abelarde splits two Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern defenders to advance the ball during Marian's 2-1 overtime victory to clinch a third straight state title. (Photos by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

EAST LANSING — The graduating seniors on Bloomfield Hills Marian’s soccer team have closed out their prep careers with three straight state championships. But they can be sure to thank a couple of their younger teammates for helping secure the latest trophy.

Sophomores Emily Rassel and Maria Askounis scored goals in Marian’s 2-1 comeback win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern on Friday — with Askounis’ game winner coming with four minutes left in overtime on Sara Stroud’s corner kick.

“There’s time ticking down on the clock, we had done it. We wanted it, we wanted to make history,” Askounis said. “I’m a sophomore, and this is my second (championship), but our seniors wanted that three-peat. To do it for them it was amazing.”

According to Askounis, coach Barry Brodsky had instructed her to position herself in front of the right goal post, and when the ball bounced around in the goal box, she was right there to place the ball into the back of the net.

“I stayed on the front post, that’s where the ball went,” Askounis said. “My teammate, Emily Rassel, got it to me at the front post, and it was easy, I just tapped it in.”

“It was awesome to score it off of a corner kick; we practice those all the time, and it was even better to get one off of that,” senior Katie Sullivan said. “We were trying for the corners. They were saying, take it down, if you can win a corner, great, because we like those.”

The late goal completed a comeback for the 18-1 Mustangs, who allowed a Forest Hills Northern goal by Grace Sayers just five minutes into the contest.

Rassel evened the score five minutes after halftime, as she received Sullivan’s crossing pass directly in front of the net and launched the ball into the upper left corner.

“It was really big because we were down and it’s the second half,” Rassel said. “That goal just really set us up to finish the game and get our momentum back.”

What made the comeback even more impressive was that the Mustangs were without their top scorer, senior Jansen Eichenlaub, for the final 30 minutes of the game. Eichenlaub, the Catholic League’s Walt Bazylewicz Female Athlete of the Year Award-winner for 2018-19, re-injured her hamstring in the second half and had to retreat to the sideline.

Birmingham Marian soccer players are all smiles after defeating Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 2-1, to win the Division 2 state soccer championship.

“All I wanted to do was get back out there, but they came through strong and they did it, I’m really happy about that,” the University of Virginia commit said. “To win it in overtime was amazing. We were all so excited. If I could be jumping up and down, I would have been. I’m really happy to just have gone all the way with my teammates.”

“Jansen is super gutty,”  coach Brodsky said. “She’s been playing on a bum hamstring the whole tournament. Just having her on the field is inspirational to the rest of the team. You can’t measure that — they just want her out on the field, and we’ve got a number of players like that, but Jansen, you can’t say enough good things about her; great captain, great leader.”

In addition to Eichenlaub, Sullivan and Stroud, Marian’s senior players include Neve Badalow, Stdney Petoskey, Megan Dolan, Morgan Cochran and winning goalkeeper Megan Kraus.

It was the third consecutive year that the Mustangs (18-1-0) beat the Huskies (19-3-1) in the final game — winning 4-2 and 2-1 in the prior match-ups — and the program’s eighth state championship under Brodsky since 2003.

How many more can the team win?

“As many as we want,” Rassel said. “As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re good.”