Mercy tops off perfect 14-0 season with Girls HS championship
After a perfect 14-0 league season, the Mercy Marlins earned a shot at the defending Michigan Girls High School League state champion Grosse Pointe South Lady Blue Devils by winning two playoff games
They made the most of their chance, overcoming a 2-1 first-period deficit with three unanswered goals and a 4-2 state championship victory March 9 at Fraser Hockeyland.
South opened the game with a 1-0 lead from Molly Ryszewski (assisted by Regan Sherry).
The Marlins answered within one minute to tie the game with a goal from Elise Brown (assisted by Gabriella Berker). South’s Lauren Benoit helped her team to a 2-1 lead with a goal at the six-minute mark, assisted by Ryszewski and Kelsie Francis.
The game began to heat up in the second with both teams taking penalties on both sides. Mercy cashed in on the player advantage first, scoring an unassisted powerplay goal from Sydney Takla. Eight minutes later, Mercy lit the lamp with another powerplay goal from Maggie Murphy (assisted by Bartels).
Mercy was able to fend off a 5-3 penalty kill in the top of the third, shutting down Grosse Pointe South’s potent offensive four.
“They had a number of scoring chances on the 5 on 3,” said Mercy Marlins head coach Dave Roegner. “Our goalie Daria Rorick made four in-close saves to keep them off the board. On the 5 on 4, they didn’t even get one shot. That gave us another boost of confidence.”
Late in the game, Mercy forechecked the South defense to intercept a pass for a breakaway goal from Grace Neito to secure the title with a 4-2 victory.
“When Grace Neito scored the fourth goal, we knew we had them on the ropes,” said Roegner.
Neito was named the game MVP for her relentless forecheck and aggressive play throughout the game.
“This was such an exciting game to be a part of,” said Neito, “I’m so happy I was able to score that fourth goal. It is one of the biggest goals I have ever scored.”
According to Roegner, the key to the team’s success was to stay calm.
“We played a very fast and very physical South team, and it took us a period to get used to their up-tempo game,” he said. “What I was really pleased with was that we bounced back after each of their goals to tie it back up quickly.
“Our girls were prepared and focused. We did not get down and there was no panic,” he continued, “As the game went on and we adjusted, we were able to take the play to them. We also did an excellent job of keeping their scorers to the outside as much as possible in our own zone.”
After the game, South coach John Weidenbach reflected on the game and the season.
“All in all, it was a pretty good season,” he said. “It would’ve definitely been a little bit nicer to win our last game, but we put up a good fight. We just came up a little bit short against a very deep Mercy team.”